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Excavation works in the Highway

If you wish to carry out excavation work on the Highway you are required to obtain a licence under Section 171 of the Highways Act 1980.  

A licence to excavate is granted if you wish to excavate the Highway but are not planning to create a vehicle crossing or install apparatus.  If you are planning to lay new apparatus or carry out repairs to existing apparatus you will require a Section 50 application.  If you are planning to create a new vehicle crossing or amend an existing crossing point you will require a Vehicle Crossing application

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A licence to excavate can be granted for the following works:

  • Relaying of existing highway surface
  • Installation of bus shelters 
  • Installation of road signs 

For some of the above works, planning permission may be required. Please contact our planning department on 0300 1234 151.

Please follow the links below to download a blank copy of our Licence to Excavate application form and list of our accredited contractors. The accredited contractors list is not a recommendation from Cornwall Council but merely a list of companies that we know hold the relevant qualifications and insurance.

Please complete all sections fully and request that your accredited contractor completes their section. Your contractor cannot sign on your behalf nor can you sign on behalf of your contractor.

A licence to excavate takes a minimum of 4 weeks notice to process, this will rise to 3 months notice if you require a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order such as a road closure.

Cost of Licence

The cost of a Licence to Excavate is £225. Payment can be submitted with the application in the form of a cheque made payable to Cornwall Council or a card payment can be taken once the licence has been approved. 

Please note that our licence fees are subject to review every April and licences submitted after April 1st will be subject to any new fees.

Where to send your complete form

Once you have a completed application form, you can either send a copy by post to Street Works, Western Group Centre, Radnor Road, Scorrier, Redruth, TR165EH or it can be emailed to

A competent contractor will be able to assist you to complete the forms. You will need to ensure that they have the relevant experience and knowledge of the NRSWA. It is your legal responsibility to ensure that all persons working on the Highway on your works do have the appropriate accreditation.

Your Accredited Contractor must be covered by £5 million Public Liability Insurance and will need to have Street works Qualifications for both a Supervisor and Operative. These must be different people; you cannot have the same person supervising and carrying out the works.

Contractors without street works accreditation or public liability insurance will not be allowed to work on the Highway.

Once Street works receive the completed application form we will assess the application and check that the information supplied is correct.  If we require any further information we will either contact the applicant or the accredited contractor depending on the nature of the query.

Once the application is approved, a signed copy of the licence will be sent to the applicant and a copy forwarded to the nominated accredited contractor.