Permission to open a highway (section 50)

Any organisation or individual wishing to place, retain, and afterwards inspect, maintain, adjust, repair, alter or renew apparatus in the highway must obtain a licence from the highway authority.

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Rights and obligations for the owner of the apparatus and the highway authority are explained within the licence.

If you wish to apply for a licence, please contact the authority via email at or phone  0345 600 6400. The works are assessed by the Streetworks team who will discuss any issues with the applicant. 
Applications can be processed in four working weeks and will normally be completed once the dates for carrying out the work have been confirmed. The applicant may have to give up to three months' advance notice of the work, depending on its duration and impact on traffic. 
The highway authority may request an alternative location for the proposed apparatus if it is considered that during the installation or any future maintenance, significant traffic disruption may occur. 
Please also note: 

  • The licence is not time limited; it ends only if the apparatus is removed from the highway. 
  • Any changes in ownership should be reported to the highway authority. 
  • Any inspections or maintenance work are the subject of an additional licence application. 


If you require any additional information, please speak to the Streetworks team. 

The cost of the Section 50 licence is £575; whilst the cost of a Section 171 licence is £375. 
The information you must provide includes location plans, timescales for carrying out the work and the type of traffic management you will use. We consult utility companies about your proposals, and they may ask for additional work to be carried out to protect their apparatus. 

The highway authority maintains a register of Section 50 licences which have been issued. If you wish to view this, please contact us to make an appointment during office hours. 

Technical Services 
Northumberland County Council 
County Hall 
NE61 2EF 
Phone: 0345 600 6400 or email: 
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