Six utility companies including BT and Virgin Media have been fined a total of £94,000 after failing to comply with roadwork legislation in Scotland.
The Scottish Road Works Commissioner issued the penalties after the firms failed to comply with their statutory obligations when placing cables and pipes in roads.
Failings were identified by the Scottish National Coring Programme, in which cores were taken from the roads to confirm the correct materials, layer depths and compaction were used in excavations.
BT was handed the maximum £50,000 fine with Virgin Media given a £34,000 penalty.
The other companies penalised were Last Mile Asset Management, ES Pipelines (£3,000 each), Network Rail and GTC (£2,000 each).
Angus Carmichael, the commissioner, said: “Organisations with statutory powers to lay apparatus in Scotland’s public roads must comply with legislation for reinstating their excavations.
“As undertakers, these companies have statutory rights which allow them to place, inspect and maintain their apparatus under the road.
“These statutory rights come with obligations set out in the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.
“Compliance with these duties is essential to protect the road network across Scotland.
“Failed reinstatements reduce the serviceable life of the road, leading to further roadworks to replace the failed sections, additional costs to roads authorities and unnecessary disruption and inconvenience to road users.”
BT were previously penalised £38,500 in 2012, £30,000 in 2014 and £50,000 in 2017 for similar failings despite ongoing engagement with senior management at Openreach.
Virgin Media were also penalised in 2012 and despite improving their performance in 2014, fell back again a year later.
Mr Carmichael added: “I am extremely disappointed with the poor performance of a number of utility companies, specifically where their performance has declined since the previous National Coring Programme and/or they have previously received a penalty for a similar breach of the legislation.
“In particular, large companies operating in the telecommunications sector, specifically Virgin Media and BTplc.
“The performance of GTC, Last Mile Asset Management, ES Pipelines and Network Rail was also unacceptable and in need of early improvement.
“Whilst two of the large players in the telecommunications sector performed badly, it is encouraging that a number of smaller telecommunication companies performed well, notably CityFibre, Arqiva, SSE Telecoms and Vodafone.
“The major water, gas and electricity organisations again achieved pass rates at or in excess 90%, maintaining their 2017 performance levels and demonstrating that improvement is possible and can be maintained.
“All organisations penalised have provided assurances that processes are being modified to demonstrate early improvement. My office will continue to scrutinise their performance closely.”
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