Apply for a licence to dig up the road

A section 50b licence is required by anyone other than a statutory authority who wants to undertake work to a highway, relating to the installation or maintenance of apparatus

Who needs a licence

Excavations to install apparatus or to inspect, maintain, adjust, repair, alter, renew, or move the apparatus will require a section 50b licence. Work can only be carried out by a competent contractor.

The section 50b excavation licence can only be processed after a section 50a licence has been approved and signed. 

Who can apply

A company or contractor will apply for permission to excavate the highway, often on behalf of a land or property owner. This is because it is the applicant who will be required to comply with and accept the licence conditions.

Before you apply

When applying for a section 50b licence it is a requirement that;

  • The contractor shall hold £10 million public liability insurance
  • The contractor shall comply with the accreditation requirements under the NRSWA 1991 Codes of Practice

To enable us to process your application please upload the following documentation;

  • A 1:500 plan showing location and extent of excavation
  • Signing and guarding proposals
  • Traffic management plan (if required by the County council or its Agent)
  • Planning approval (if required by the County Council or its Agent)

Note: Failure to provide appropriate supporting documentation will delay the processing of your application.

Conditions of licence

Section 50 & Schedule 3 of New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.

Conditions of licence

  1. The applicant shall not carry out any excavation or other works in the highway except in accordance with a plan, to be submitted with this application, and approved by the Highway Authority. The licensee shall ensure that persons carrying out the work are qualified and competent. For the purposes of carrying out the works, the contractor shall comply with the Codes of Practice for Training issued under the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991. Specifically the contractors’ supervisor will be trained and accredited to the requirements of the Codes of Practice
  2. a) The Licensee shall indemnify the County Council pursuant to s82 New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and Paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 of the New Roads and Street Works Act, and in addition shall indemnify the County Council against all liability, loss, claim or proceeding whatsoever arising under statute or common law in respect of the placing, retaining, inspecting, maintaining, adjusting, repairing, altering, renewing or removing of its apparatus on or under the highway
    b) The applicant shall hold public liability insurance in an amount not less than £10 million in respect of each and every occurrence or series of occurrences caused by or attributable to any event giving rise to a claim
    c) The applicant shall hold such insurance cover as set out at 7(b) for the duration of the works and until the County Council resumes responsibility for maintenance of the highway in accordance with Condition 14
  3. a) The applicant shall regulate the works so as to minimise obstruction to vehicular and pedestrian traffic and shall guard the works in accordance with Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual published by the HMSO
    b) The applicant shall meet the cost of providing temporary traffic lights where they are required as a result of their works. Where traffic diversions are required, the Licensee shall meet the cost of strengthening the highway or repairing damage to the highway as a result of traffic diverted by the street works. Such costs are to be determined by the County Council
  4. The applicant shall not interfere with any drain, culvert, gully, bridge, wall or other structure without the express and specific consent of the Highway Authority
  5. No part of the highway may be closed, at any time, without the express and specific consent of the Highway Authority
  6. a) The issue of a licence to make a temporary excavation in the highway does not authorise the Licensee to interfere with apparatus already existing in the street. At all times access must be maintained to any apparatus within the highway
    b) The issue of a licence does not dispense the licensee from obtaining any other consent, licence or permission which may be required for their works. The Licensee is responsible for identifying and obtaining any necessary consents, licences or permissions from any third parties or other authorities having an interest in the works or apparatus prior to commencing their works
  7. a) The Highway Authority shall serve notices to the Statutory Undertakers in accordance with the requirements of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 on behalf of the applicant. Except in the case of an emergency, such notices must be made at least twenty-five working days prior to the start of the works, or, in the case of major works, at least three months prior to the start of the works
    b) The Licensee is not permitted to commence works in advance of the notice period, unless the express and specific permission of the Highway Authority has been sought and obtained. In the event that such permission is granted, the Licensee shall be solely responsible for giving notice to Statutory Undertakers and obtaining details of their plant
  8. The Licensee shall be responsible for carrying out any works required by a Statutory Undertaker in their response to a notice, or subsequently, to protect apparatus. Prior to the commencement of any works, the Licensee shall determine the precise location of any Statutory Undertaker’s plant. The Licensee shall allow for the notification process when programming their work
  9. If the Highway Authority and relevant Statutory Undertakers consent to the proposed works, a licence will be issued by the Highway Authority. (Works shall not commence until this licence is approved and issued)
  10. An applicant who contravenes any condition or fails to perform the statutory duties imposed by sections 171(4) or 171(5) Highways Act 1980 is guilty of an offence and will be prosecuted by the Highway Authority. In addition, and pursuant to section 171(7) Highways Act 1980, where an offence has been committed the Highway Authority may remove the obstruction or fill in the excavation and recover the expenses reasonably incurred in doing so from the person convicted
  11. The applicant shall meet the costs incurred by the Highway Authority in carrying out any inspections deemed necessary by the Highway Authority under s72(2) New Roads and Street Works Act 1991
  12. In the event of the works being cancelled by the applicant after the application form has been submitted an administration fee will be charged to the applicant to cover administrative costs
  13. Reinstatement of the works shall be carried out as soon as is reasonable practicable and in accordance with the specification provided by the Highway Authority. Any excavation shall be at least temporarily reinstated with bitumen macadam before removing any signing and barriers. Limestone is not permitted in the wearing course. Any temporary reinstatement shall be agreed with the Highway Authority
  14. During the course of the works and following reinstatement, the area shall be left in a clean and tidy condition to the satisfaction of the Highway Authority
  15. The applicant shall keep the area of the works lit from 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise
  16. Within two days of completion of the works the applicant shall give written notice to the Highway Authority. This shall be done by way of the ‘closing notice’ provided by the Highway Authority
  17. The date and time when the Highway Authority will resume responsibility for maintenance of the highway works, distinct from the apparatus, will normally be two years from the proper date of the completion of the works. Until the Highway Authority assume responsibility for maintenance of the works the applicant shall be responsible for any claims arising from the work or any necessary maintenance works and associated costs. The Highway Authority shall determine any necessary works


  • ‘The Highway’ includes the carriageway, footway and any verge
  • If the applicant objects to these conditions or a refusal by the Highway Authority, or its Agent, to approve a licence, then an appeal may be made to the Secretary of State

The approval process

On receipt of your application, an Engineer will visit the site to determine its suitability and, if excavation is required, the public utilities notified for any necessary alterations to their supply services.

  • £430
  • per licence

You will receive an automated receipt when paying for this service. No VAT is charged as this is a non-business service and the VAT is classed as ‘out-of-scope’. However, should it be required for your records, Hampshire County Council’s VAT number is GB 189 4068 22.

Any costs associated with works necessary to public utilities' supply service will be the responsibility of the licensee.


If you're happy you understand the conditions and charges. 

Upon application you will be required to pay the fee. Please have your payment details ready before submitting your application. 

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Highways Act 1980 and New Roads and Street Works Act - licences and consents

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