The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the rules around traffic regulation orders (TROs), including creating digital TROs.
The DfT said its vision is to create digital TROs, transform engagement and consultation with local communities and simplify and speed up the time it takes to make orders.
Under the proposal to create digital TROs, applicants could apply for them online and they would be processed using digital, software systems, and ‘published in an open, digital format so the information they contain can be accessed easily by the range of organisations and people who have an interest, at consultation stage and when they are made’.
In the foreword to the consultation document, roads minister Baroness Vere described the proposals as the first reforms for a generation to how TROs are made.
She wrote: ‘The traffic regulation orders made by traffic authorities are vital to enabling, delivering and supporting the future of transport. They are needed to make and enforce any change to the way a road is used or how it is designed and thousands of them are needed every year. Yet the legal process for making them was created in an analogue world and this is still in use today.
‘The time is right to bring this process into the digital world so that it can support all the changes we want to deliver in a simpler, quicker and better way and which will also support better engagement and consultation with local residents and businesses.’
The proposed changes to the process include:
- adding a new requirement for TAs to publish standardised, digital and open data about all TROs for anyone to access, use and share
- introducing a requirement for TAs to publish service levels for TRO applicants
- removing a requirement for the secretary of state to approve special events orders that close a road for more than three days, close the same road on more than one occasion in a calendar year; or close roads for filming
- altering the requirement to publish TROs in local newspapers but include other digital media where local newspapers are not available
- adding a requirement for TAs to publish details of application fees on their websites
- reviewing the list of statutory consultees
The DfT has also published research on whether to create a single central digital platform for TROs and research into the emergency procedure for TROs brought in as a response to the pandemic, which has now lapsed.
Under the emergency procedure, proposed TROs could be published using alternative modes other than local newspapers, such as on digital platforms.
The research found that the business as usual arrangements for notifying road users were ‘not considered effective by local authorities or road users’.
Reflecting huge public controversy over the past two years, it also found that emergency traffic regulation measures to support management of the pandemic ‘have often been locally divisive’.
It said: ‘These issues largely relate to the measures that have been implemented rather than their communication. In some cases, the measures were developed with urgency and without the level of informal consultation that may have otherwise taken place. This has resulted in design issues that have created frictions for some groups of users and a perception amongst some communities that they were not sufficiently consulted.’
The DfT said it is are also asking for views about streamlining the process for installing electric vehicle chargepoints and introducing a unified consent process by which the planning permission consent and the highways consent for the traffic management works would be obtained at the same time.