Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the National Joint Utilities Group

  I am writing on behalf of the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG)[43] in response to the Regulatory Reform Select Committee's call for evidence as part of its inquiry into Getting Results: The Better Regulation Executive and the Impact of the Regulatory Reform Agenda.

  NJUG was formed in 1977 and is recognised as the only UK industry association representing utilities on street works issues. Our focus is on promoting: safety; the prevention of damage to underground assets; quality and sustainability of street works; sharing of best practice; self regulation; and a two-way working relationship with Government, local authorities, and other key stakeholders to minimise disruption. To further these aims we launched NJUG's Vision for Street Works ( and have been holding a number of fora around the country to promote our objectives.

  Many of our members are actively supporting a number of Government sponsored projects including the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, and Crossrail, as well as representing utilities in discussions with Government and other key stakeholders to seek to ensure that any legislative or regulatory proposals are fair, workable and do not affect the safe provision of our essential services.

  NJUG is also the utility arm of the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee, known as HAUC(UK), working collaboratively with local authorities to better standards of road and street works in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


  The National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) and its member companies support the efforts of the Government to revise the regulatory system in the UK. NJUG is continually engaging with key stakeholders to ensure that this important issue is addressed.

  NJUG feels that full consideration must be given to alternative forms of classic regulation. We welcome the stated commitment of all major political parties to the principles of "Better Regulation", but feel that the Government must honour this commitment. It is NJUG's view that Governmental Departments have failed to embrace the spirit, principles and practices presented by the principles of better regulation, for example during the passage of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (TMA).

  We feel Government should always fully consider existing legislation before introducing new regulatory measures. For instance, we were extremely disappointed by the failure of the Government to respond to the concerns that we expressed during the passage of the TMA, warning of replication between this Act and the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA), which resulted in already heavily burdened utilities being targeted.

  NJUG feels that there are already excessive and unnecessary regulatory burdens on the utilities sector. In the area of street works alone, utilities are faced with the TMA, Communications Act, Diversionary Works, NRSWA and LLA Bills to name only a few. While each regulation may on its own appear eminently sensible and not too burdensome, the cumulative effect is increasing costs and bureaucracy for utilities, which ultimately is having an effect on the competitiveness of UK plc, and increasing the cost for consumers.

  NJUG applauds the findings of the National Audit Office's (NAO) report[44] on Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs). The report supported NJUG's belief that there is a lack of clarity and consistent weakness in the assessment process, and highlighted "two areas of particular concern: costs and benefits; and monitoring and evaluation". NJUG accepts and supports the use of effective RIAs, but stresses the need for these to be relevant throughout the policy making cycle.

  In their study of the RIA accompanying the TMA, the NAO confirmed the view held by NJUG that a lack of effective assessment had led to a failure to present a sufficient quantification of cost and benefits, and consequently to demonstrate justification for legislation in the first place. It was of further concern to NJUG that much of the legislation carried in the TMA was a replication of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA).

  It is our belief that effective attempts to deliver Better Regulation will be beneficial to the utilities sector. We recognise Government efforts to streamline and simplify regulations and support measures designed to ensure that regulation allows greater transparency and RIAs producing comprehensive cost / benefit analysis.

  Sufficient and justifiable cost / benefit analysis should be the foundation of any regulation. It is NJUG's belief that to date, such evidence has not been produced to substantiate a number of the regulations found within the TMA, resulting in an increase in costs that will inevitably be felt by the consumer. Nonetheless, NJUG supports the Government's commitment to reducing congestion and establishing a sustainable society and has therefore committed to working in partnership with the Department for Transport and Local Authorities to try and initiate a smooth transition into the system introduced by the TMA.

  However, NJUG is still particularly concerned about the Government introducing further legislation, and believes the refinement of and adherence to existing legislation and use of non-regulatory measures is preferable to additional regulation. It is our belief that the current system encourages Government Ministers and officials to introduce new legislation and regulation rather than consider self-regulation and/or non-regulatory measures. This would appear to go against the Government's publicised commitment to "Better Regulation", which is currently supported by all major political parties.

  NJUG would welcome the opportunity to elaborate on these points, and to answer any queries that the Committee may have. If the Committee's Members desire this, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0207 340 1423 or at

Richard Wakelen


National Joint Utilities Group Ltd

March 2008

43   NJUG's current members are Energy Networks Association (representing electricity and gas), Water UK (representing all water and wastewater companies), National Grid, BT, Cable and Wireless, Virgin Media and THUS plc, and our associate members are Clancy Docwra, Skanska McNicholas, Balfour Beatty, Morrison, Morgan Est and NACAP. Including members through trade associations, NJUG represents 49 utility companies. Back

44   NAO (28/06/2006) "Evaluation of Regulatory Impact Assessments 2005-06" Back

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