Gas, water, electricity and telecoms firms will have to apply for permits and work together to minimise disruption. They will have to give three months’ notice of a proposed job and meet deadlines for completion.
Local authorities will be able to set work hours and ban other companies from digging the same road within a specified period.
The Department for Transport said that existing legislation was failing to cope with the sharp increase in street works. More than a million holes were dug last year. The traffic delays they caused cost the economy an estimated £2 billion.
The DfT has published draft regulations, Keeping Traffic Moving, which list a rising scale of fines for late completion of works, starting from £250 a day for a minor road up to £2,500 for a major route.
Companies can be fined up to £2,000 at present, but this rarely happens because they are able to set themselves long periods in which to complete work and exploit loopholes to overrun these deadlines.