Excavating the highway

Any excavation of the public highway must be licensed under Section 50 or Section 171 of the Highways Act 1980.

The term ‘public highway’ includes roads, pavements and verges.

Who can apply?

Only contractors who are accredited under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and who hold £10 million public liability insurance, may apply for a licence.

Applications must only be completed by the contractor who holds the valid £10 million public liability insurance.


  • £642 in payment of application, inspection and manual noticing fees
  • Deposit £101 per square metre of reinstatement (minimum deposit £707)
  • If works are four or more days in duration, works will be subject to daily inspections at £70.50

Example of Section 50 works

Installation of apparatus in the public highway (for example, a new service connection).

Example of Section 171 works

All other excavation, including vehicle crossings and repairs to existing services.


You can request an application form by: