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Before digging up the public highway, the land or homeowner must have a licence.

This licence is commonly referred to as a “Road opening licence” or “Section 50 licence” as licences are issued under Section 50 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (as amended).

The licence allows the repair and placing of apparatus and services across the road (and in some instances, along the highway).

If the road must be closed, you will also need to make a separate application and we will need 3 months’ notice. You can find more information about this on our Apply to close a road or right of way for works page.

Who should apply

A company or contractor may apply on behalf of the land or property owner, but the licence will remain in the possession of the land or property owner.

Once the licence is issued to the owner of the apparatus it stays with that property for the duration that it is in the ground, this may form part of the deeds associated with the property or land and as such should be transferred to new owners, you will need to inform us of the change.

If repair work is needed in the future the same licence can be used, you will need to inform us of this and the Statutory Undertaker responses will need to be reapplied for if the 3-month validation has passed.

How to get a licence

Email us at BSupport-NRSWA@somerset.gov.uk and we will send you a licence application pack.

Please include the following information in your email:

  • Your contact details
  • Description and exact location of works
  • Property name or number
  • Road Name
  • Postcode
  • Parish

The licence application contains a full set of instructions for completion and contact details for other organisations. We will also give you a unique reference number.

Typically, we will require:

  • Owner or contractor details
  • Insurance details
  • location plans
  • traffic management plans
  • plant enquiry returns
  • waste transfer details

We will process the completed licence application and will contact you should any further information or clarification be required.

We will send a licence to carry out the works which must remain in possession of the property or landowner.

The Section 50 licence application includes:

  • Application for placing of new apparatus
  • Application to carry out planned works on existing apparatus, whether previously placed under a similar licence or not
  • Application for emergency works to rectify defective apparatus

A Section 50 licence does not include connections to any Somerset Council owned highway drains.

The normal processing time from submitting an application to receiving a granted licence is approximately 28 days.

An application may be delayed if we have not received all the requested information.

Authorisation for the connection of new equipment or apparatus to any existing highway drainage system will not be granted.


The application form contains current pricing, which is subject to change by administration and legislative changes, but typically includes costs for:

  • Administration (£90)
  • Annual capitalised fee for retaining records of placed or maintained apparatus (£100)
  • Statutory inspection fees (£150)
  • Further inspection fees as a result of future investigations (Minimum £47.50 with no upper limit)

Works more than 200 metres length will be subject to additional inspection fees per 200 metres (see third bullet point above).


We issue these licences as part of our New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991 function. This is to ensure that private individuals record and guarantee the works conducted on the public highway.

As stated in the licence, the quality of workmanship will be monitored as guided by the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991 (as amended by the Traffic Management Act 2004) and associated Codes of Practice.

Longitudinal Apparatus Policy 

Private apparatus will not be allowed to run longitudinally in the highway. The preferred option is for private apparatus to run through private land by means of Wayleave Agreements with the owners. If this is not possible and the development cannot be facilitated in any other way, then a private apparatus may run longitudinally in the highway where it is deemed necessary to meet a genuine public need and if supported by a surety or bond.

General information

Our aim is to:

  • Help members of the public maintain the services that are provided to their properties
  • Assist in the management of street and roadworks, road closures and traffic movement on Somerset’s roads
  • Enable records of works, apparatus and to ensure associated highway integrity.

To achieve this, we will need:

  • An accurate location of where the works are to take place, including a postcode
  • Traffic management plans for the proposed works

We may impose special conditions:

  • In the interests of safety
  • To minimise the inconvenience to people using the street, in particular, the needs of people with a disability
  • To protect the structure of the street and the integrity of apparatus in it.

The applicant must strictly adhere to these conditions. Financial penalties may be imposed by us against the licence holder, and the applicant, for non-compliance with the relevant statutory duties or licence conditions.

If any works are found to be defective, as defined in the ‘Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway’, further inspections will be charged per inspection. The licence does not dispense the licensee from obtaining any other consent, licence or provision which may be required. In particular, permission to connect to a sewer must be sought from the relevant company.

We must be permitted to monitor performance throughout all stages of the works. You must guarantee the works for 2 years, or 3 years if they are more than 1.5 metres deep. The guarantee period does not begin until the permanent reinstatement has been accepted as completed.

Due to possible future problems relating to flooding and land drainage, no Section 50 licences will be granted for connections into highway drainage.

Contact the team

Contact: Streetworks
Address: Somerset Council, County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY
Email: BSupport-NRSWA@somerset.gov.uk
Streetworks opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.

Last reviewed: February 29, 2024 by Qi

Next review due: August 29, 2024

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