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Apply for a Section 50 licence

Apply for a Section 50 licence

1. What a Section 50 licence is

A section 50 licence is a permit for a private person or organisation to install a new apparatus or work on an existing apparatus across or along a public highway.

 An apparatus could be a private:

  • drain
  • fibre optic cable
  • duct
  • sewer, water or gas pipe

Once approved, you’ll receive an electronic copy of your licence. 

A licence is granted to the landowner giving permission to:

  • carry out works to install or maintain an apparatus within specified dates
  • retain the apparatus in the Highway

2. Process overview

There are several steps to your application:

  • read the Guidance for applicants
  • check if you need to apply separately for road closures or have portable signals in place
  • fill in the Section 50 Licence application form for placing new or repairing existing apparatus in the highway using the SWL2 form
  • tell all Statutory Undertakers about your works and fill in the SWL5 form so we can finish processing your licence application
  • confirm the start and end date before your works start using the SWL3 form
  • register your works within 10 days of completion using the SWL4 form

3. Before you apply

When you apply you become a ‘work undertaker’ and must read the Guidance for applicants  to understand your responsibilities. As the licence holder, you can be fined if you don’t meet the statutory duties imposed by the New Roads and Streetworks Act (NRSWA)

Before you apply, you must: 

  • appoint an accredited contractor to do the work as you’ll need to attach a copy of the supervisor and operative’s street work qualification card to your application
  • have a public liability insurance of at least £5 million up to the completion of the works and attach a copy as proof

You’ll also need to check whether you need to apply for:

4. Apply for a Section 50 licence

You must apply at least four weeks before your proposed start date. 

We may agree to a shorter period in emergency cases.

Contact traffic@bristol.gov.uk if you need more details about emergency applications.

You’ll need to apply four documents to this form:

  • a scale plan
  • a copy of the supervisor's streetworks qualification card
  • a copy of the operative's streetworks qualification card
  • a copy of your insurance certificate

Apply for a Section 50 licence (SWL2 form)

A Section 50 licence application costs a minimum of: 

  • £459 for work on a new apparatus
  • £320 for work on an existing apparatus

The cost includes the inspection of the first 200m length of road. You must pay £150 for each additional 200m length of road and each additional road affected.

We’ll carry out at least one inspection, either:

  • during the works; or
  • immediately after the end of your works

5. After submitting your Section 50 application

After you submit your licence application you’ll need to:

  • tell all Statutory Undertakers about your works 
  • fill in the SWL5 form once you’ve heard from them so we can finish processing your application

Statutory undertaker’s requirements (SWL5 form)

It's your responsibility to contact all the relevant statutory undertakers on this list to ask about the location of their apparatus.

6. Confirm your start date

You must confirm the exact start and end date of your work and tell us about any delay or if you wish to change the works dates using the Notice of works form. You must send this form at least five days before the start date of your works.

We may charge you as much as £5000 per day if you extend your work dates without telling us.

Notice of works (SWL3 form)

Add your licence reference number if you’ve got it. You’ll find that number at the top of your SLW2 licence and in the email we sent you to confirm your licence was granted. 

Applications for multiple roads can be submitted within the same application.

7. When you’ve completed the works

You must tell us about the completion of your works within 10 working days using the Registration of works SWL4 form and whether your restoration, or reinstatement, of the street to its original state is:

  • temporary
  • permanent

A reinstatement may be temporary to avoid over-running but must become permanent within six months. We may start charging you otherwise. 

You must contact us to discuss this but won’t need to apply for a new licence. However you'll need to fill in another Registration of works form to let us know your reinstatement is permanent.

Registration of works (SWL4 form)

You’ll have to fix faulty reinstatements and we’ll charge you for any follow-up inspections. 

Once the reinstatement has been accepted, you must guarantee it for a period of:

  • two years if the depth of ground over the buried apparatus is less than 1.5 metres
  • three years if the depth of ground over the buried apparatus is greater than 1.5 metres