Openreach hit the hardest for trashing Scotland’s roads

Photo: Michel Curi/Flickr

Five broadband and mobile operators have been fined a total of £83,500 for failing to comply with their statutory obligations when placing cables and pipes beneath Scottish roads.

The Scottish Road Works Commissioner dished out the whopping fine after it was noticed that the firms failed to use the correct materials, layer depths and compaction in the bituminous layers of excavations.

Openreach was fined £50,000 for its failures – the maximum penalty and the heftiest of the bunch. This marks the company’s third penalty in six years for botched roadworks, following a £38,500 fine in 2012 and £30,000 in 2014 for similar failings.

Virgin Media was asked to cough up £16,000, while Telefonica and Vodafone were hit with a £8,000 penalty. Finally, Energetics was fined £1,500.

These penalties take into account the rate of failure below 80 per cent and the overall number of road works undertaken by the company to estimate the potential degree of harm caused.

Previous performance, including penalties for similar failures, and the mitigation provided by each company, particularly where recent data was able to show improvement, were also taken into account in determining the level of penalty.

Angus Carmichael, Scottish Road Works Commissioner, said he was “extremely disappointed” that the performance of certain utility companies had declined.

In a statement, Mr Carmichael stressed that it was essential that companies complied with their duties to protect the road network across Scotland.

“Failed reinstatements reduce the serviceable life of the road, leading to further road works to replace the failed sections, additional costs to roads authorities and unnecessary disruption and inconvenience to road users,” the commissioner explained.

Openreach’s performance has deteriorated from a pass rate of 72 per cent to 69 per cent, despite ongoing engagement with senior management at the firm.

Ben Robb, brand manager at Dieselink, commented: “It is a shame that some communications companies aren’t fulfilling their obligations after their work. It is leaving Scottish roads in a poor state – that is not only unacceptable but it is unsustainable too. We applaud the commissioner’s decision.”