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You need permission from the council to put some equipment connected with digging into a public road on the street.

This equipment is often known as ‘apparatus’.

You can do emergency work without a licence but you must tell the council within 2 hours of starting work.

England and Wales

You must get a licence from the council.


You must get written permission from the council - this can include email.

Other work you need a licence for

You need a licence to dig or tunnel into a street, sewer or drain.

You also need a licence to do any of these to apparatus:

  • inspect
  • adjust
  • maintain
  • repair
  • renew
  • move
  • alter
  • remove


You must ask the sewer authority (or in Scotland, Scottish Water) before giving notice to the council if you want to do work that will affect a public sewer.


You must give at least 7 working days’ notice and have a qualified supervisor on site during work. There must always be a trained person on site.

You must:

  • minimise inconvenience to people using the street
  • protect the structure of the street
  • guard and light any part of the street which is broken up or obstructed
  • use traffic signs to help traffic if necessary

You must repair the street and as soon as possible when the work is finished and tell the council within 10 working days when it’s repaired. In Scotland, you must tell the council on the next working day after the work’s finished.

You could be fined up to £5,000 if you break the conditions of a licence.