Apply for a Section 50 licence

Apply for a Section 50 licence

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

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 on the SWL5 section of the application form 
  • register your works within 10 days of completion using the SWL4 form

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:

Fees, penalties and charges

There’s an application fee for a Section 50 Licence and you may be liable for supplementary charges mirroring those which apply to a Statutory Undertaker under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA). 

Application fees

A Section 50 licence application costs a minimum of: 

  • £503 for work on a new apparatus
  • £351 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.

Fixed penalty charge of £80

You’ll face a penalty charge for any or all of the following:

  • late submission of forms SWL4 indicating date and dimensions of reinstatement
  • breach of agreed Licence conditions such as works location, works dates and times or traffic management type

Charges for Defective Reinstatement inspections

If your reinstatements are found to be defective you’ll be charged a Defect Inspection fee of £47.50 every 17 working days from discovery, until the Defect has been resolved.

Section 74 over-run charges

You may incur over-run daily charges for occupation of the Highway further to that agreed within the licence. These charges are applied for each working day you retain either works or traffic management on site. 

The daily charges are between £250 and £10,000 per day depending on the nature of the road.

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

Before submitting your licence application you’ll also need to tell all Statutory Undertakers about your works.

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

Apply for a Section 50 licence (SWL2 and SWL5)

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

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

Refunds

We'll apply a charge of 50% if we receive a request for cancellation within two weeks of receipt of application.

After two weeks 100% application fee applies, minus the inspection fees.

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.

You must submit this form within 10 working days of the completion of your work otherwise you'll receive a penalty charge of £80.

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