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Apparatus and excavating the highway

  • Type of application: For contractors
  • Cost: Licence costs vary depending on the type of work being carried out.
  • Notice needed: A minimum of two months’ notice is needed other than in emergency situations.

You may also need to apply for:

Returning contractors: Apply for an apparatus and excavating the highway licence here

Application details

If you are planning to carry out work that involves excavating (digging) the highway (roads, payments or verges) and/or installing new apparatus, working on or accessing existing apparatus, you must apply for a licence.

Apparatus is any piece of equipment:

  • used for a particular purpose, for example, water pipes, cables and sewer pipes
  • used to lodge another piece of apparatus, such as a duct laid for a cable
  • placed to gain access to another piece of apparatus, for example, a manhole or inspection chamber

A licence is needed for any apparatus:

  • placed under the highway surface – excavation works, boring and tunnelling
  • on the highway surface – such as an inspection box
  • over the highway – such as telephone wires

You will also need a licence if you want to carry out:

  • work on apparatus that does not require any excavation, such as a manhole inspection
  • excavation work that does not involve apparatus, such as excavating a trial hole


Installing a new service (new apparatus) costs £455. Repairing existing apparatus costs £312.

An extra charge of £82 applies for each additional 200 metres length of excavation, over the initial 200 metres.

Construction cable trenches for a solar or wind farm cost £560.

Non-apparatus excavations (temporary holes) cost £71.

Inspecting a service with traffic management, for example, lifting a manhole or undertaking a CCTV survey costs £67.00. Placing a temporary traffic counter or CCTV camera for a traffic survey costs £84.

The cancellation fee is up to £137 – the final cost depends on how far the application has been processed.

If we have served you with a Section 81 (defective cover) notice letter there is no fee to pay (you will be refunded) and there is no extra fee to pay for using temporary traffic signals.

There is no VAT to add to these costs.


For work with a duration of 10 working days or less, we require two months’ notice.

For work with a duration of more than 10 working days or for any work that requires a road closure, we need three months’ notice.

In the case of an emergency, you should call us on 01392 382090.

In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to request a relaxation of the notice period. These requests can be made by telephoning the Highway Coordination Team on the number above. Requests are not guaranteed, and each will be considered on its own merits.

Who can apply

All applications must be made by contractors on behalf of their customers.

You may also need to apply for

A temporary traffic restriction

If you need to close a road or change a traffic restriction, you will have to apply to do so.

Road closures are a last resort and will only be granted following a completed application and risk assessment.

Read the guidance notes and then fill in application form TTRO2. Please ensure that on the application you select that this is for a private streetworks licence.

Once completed please upload the application form within the traffic management section of the apparatus and excavation form.

A licence to carry out minor work on the highway

If you need to place further materials on the highway (road or pavement) such as building materials, you will be required to apply for a licence to carry out minor work on the highway.