Shropshire Star

Severn Trent ordered to pay £56,000 over unnecessary roadworks disruption

Severn Trent Water has been ordered to pay more than £56,000 for unnecessary disruption to the public on county roads.

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Severn Trent was ordered to pay more than £50,000 after admitting the offences

The utilities firm pleaded guilty to 10 charges when it appeared at Telford Magistrates Court – with the prosecution brought by Shropshire Council.

The charges relate to the company's misuse of statutory powers to close roads for work classified as "emergency" or "urgent" without prior planning permission.

The firm was ordered to pay a penalty of £37,600, plus costs and a victim surcharge – a total of £56,695.60.

The 10 offences related to work carried out across the Shropshire Council area between September 2022 and February 2023.

The court heard that the offences caused unwarranted inconvenience to the public, and in some instances compromised public safety.

They included providing false notification of work in Market Drayton, Shrewsbury, Montford Bridge, Preston Brockhurst, Bridgnorth and Ludlow.

Other offences included working outside of permitted hours on a site between the A5 and Hanwood, as well as failing to "adequately sign, light and guard" part of the road being worked on.

Then, on the A495 Station Road, Whittington, the firm provided an incorrect notification that there was a leak which needed immediate street work, having already known about the leak beforehand.

Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning and regulatory services, said: “Shropshire Council is responsible for regulating works taking place on our network of roads and any avoidable breaches that disrupt the flow of traffic and safety of the network are taken extremely seriously, as this prosecution shows.

“All of these offences arose from of a misuse of the statutory legislation that is designed to enable utilities companies to engage with the council in respect of planned works being undertaken on the highways network.

“If correctly used the legislation enables pre-planning to reduce the impact of such works on the road users, local communities and businesses, thus reducing inconvenience.

“Severn Trent Water has increasingly mis-used the immediate works categories which undermines the necessity to undertake prior planning and notification to both the council and other stakeholders.

“This misuse of immediate permits has caused unwarranted inconvenience to the public, and compromised the council’s ability to comply with its duties. This is also reflected in the high volume of complaints being received by council officers in relation to the disruption caused by Severn Trent’s work.”