Apply for temporary traffic lights

You must apply for permission to use temporary traffic signals.

You do not need to apply for works taking place under the Lincolnshire Permit Scheme (LiPS).

Before you apply, read the temporary traffic signals application guidance.

Applications must be made at least 7 days before the required start date. If your application relates to a request in the next 7 days you must contact us first.

Apply for temporary traffic lights

This process is in addition to the legal requirements for notices.

You must record on any notices the intention to operate portable light signals.


Portable traffic signals 

The term "portable traffic signals" is used throughout this document. This procedure provides guidance on the formal authorisation of the temporary use of traffic signals irrespective of terminology used elsewhere.


Statutory utility companies working under the Lincolnshire Permit Scheme (LiPS) are not required to follow this application process.  Instead they should submit an application via Street Manager.


This process applies to the prescribed requirements for any promoters of activities on the highway to obtain formal authorisation from highway authorities before placing portable traffic signals on the highway. This is a legal requirement. For the avoidance of doubt, formal authorisation must be obtained for non-notifiable works. It is an offence to place and operate portable traffic signals on the highway without approval from the traffic authority.

Relevant reference material is shown in:

  • the Traffic Signals Regulations and General Directions 2016 (the TSRGD)
  • Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8 Part 2
  • Safety at Street Works and Road Works – A Code of Practice (the Red Book)
  • An Introduction to the Use of Portable Vehicular Signals (the Pink Book)

An authority may consider applications by promoters to operate a system of general prior approval for the exceptional circumstances permitted by Direction 53(2).

Although placement of portable traffic signals for the following categories of work require formal authorisation, these applications will follow an agreed "fast-track" process: 

  • emergency
  • urgent
  • special cases of urgent and remedial dangerous

Arrangements for fast-track authorisations must be established in advance with each individual authority, including relevant out of hours contact numbers and procedures.

Full retrospective applications for formal authorisation for any fast-track applications must be received by the highway authority in accordance with their out of hours procedures or by 10am the next working day, whichever is the sooner.

Applications for two-way portable traffic signals where a shuttle section includes a road junction should be clearly identified under the site location and details section of the form. The highway authority may require that multiphase portable traffic signals are used at these sites.

Suitable ordnance survey based site plans of not less than scale 1:1250 must be supplied for all hard copy applications. One set must be supplied for soft copy and facsimile applications. Plans must show:

  • head or controller position
  • stage diagram details
  • work schedules

Proposed signal timings must be submitted with all applications. Use of vehicle actuation is standard except where otherwise instructed verbally or in writing by the highway authority.

The "site location and details" section must refer to the highest classification of street on which the portable traffic signals will be placed for the notified works, for example:

  • A road
  • B road

A separate schedule of works should be provided with the application if the number and position of signal heads will change through the progress of the works.

The promotor will take responsibility for ensuring compliance with any conditions associated with the formal authorisation of an approved scheme.

It is the responsibility of the promoter to arrange in advance with the relevant highway authority for the adjustment or suspension of:

  • permanent traffic signals
  • pedestrian crossings
  • bus lanes or bus stops
  • controlled parking
  • Traffic Regulation Orders

Applications must follow the agreed process. All relevant items of the application form must be completed to enable the highway authority to evaluate the promoter's works.

Any changes to the approved application must be agreed by the highway authority. These changes may require a new application to be submitted.

This process is in addition to requirements under NRSWA, where these apply, normal NRSWA procedures must be followed.  The intention to operate portable traffic signals should be recorded on any permit request submitted.

Promoters must comply with the authority procedures and time scales for advising when the portable traffic signals are activated and deactivated.

All portable traffic signal equipment must conform to the TSRGD Regulation 35.

Promoters must take account of environmental considerations for their works. This may include:

  • seeking approval with the regional electricity company or Highway Authority to utilise mains power supply for portable traffic signal equipment or
  • ensuring that equipment is battery operated. Use of generators must comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Promoters must comply with the Safety at street works and road works Code of Practice. They must have regard to local highway authority policy and guidance notes and relevant checklists when submitting applications. It is a statutory requirement that "STOP/GO" boards must be available in case the portable traffic signals break down.

Work activity must be ongoing on site at all times while signals are being used, unless otherwise directed by the highway authority and in regard to NRSWA s66.

The return to the promoter of an approved application form together with any conditions of approval, will constitute written permission to place portable traffic signals in regard to the application made. A copy of this permission must be held on site and provided on site for inspection when requested.

The highway authority reserves the right to instruct removal of the portable traffic signals at any point during the works.

Application process period

The following minimum notice periods are required for approval process:

Category of work


Emergency, Special Urgent, Urgent, Remedial Dangerous Telephone before set-up. Notify within 2 hours or 10am next working day if out of hours
All minor works: traffic sensitive 7 days
All minor works: non-traffic sensitive 7 days
Remedial works: dangerous Telephone before set-up.  Notify within 2 hours or 10am next working day if out of hours
Remedial works: non-dangerous 7 days
Standard works: traffic sensitive 10 days
Standard works: non-traffic sensitive 10 days
Major works or projects 10 days

Note 1: Days are working days in accordance with the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.

Note 2: Scheme design and approval process period will be confirmed by highway authority on request.

Note 3: The highway authority is not obliged to accept a request to design a scheme.


Step 1 - works require portable traffic signal control

  • If yes, proceed to step 2
  • If no, Stop

Step 2 - special cases of urgent, urgent or remedial (dangerous)

  • If yes, proceed to step 3
  • If no, proceed to step 5

Step 3 - highway authority requested by telephone to give preliminary approval for the use of portable traffic signal control

Step 4 – highway authority gives oral approval and issues preliminary approval

  • If yes, proceed to step 5
  • If no, proceed to step 15

Step 5 – promoter submits application (in standard format) to highway authority.  The minimum notice period is determined by reference to work category and guidance note 22

Step 6 – application approved

  • If yes, proceed to step 7
  • If no, proceed to step 8

Step 7 – formal authorisation provided by highway authority with authority reference

  • Proceed to step 9

Step 8 - application returned to promoter with reasons for non-approval

  • Proceed to step 15

Step 9 – promoter accepts conditions of approval

  • If yes, proceed to step 10
  • If no, proceed to step 15

Step 10 - works commence in compliance with conditions of approval

  • If yes, proceed to step 13
  • If no, proceed to step 11

Step 11 - promoter telephones highway authority for alternative duration or conditions and submits revised application

Step 12 - Highway authority receives revised application

  • If yes, proceed to step 13
  • If no, proceed to step 14

Step 13 - promoter confirms dates portable traffic signals use start and end

Step 14 - application returned to promoter with reasons for non-approval

  • Proceed to step 15

Step 15 - alternative or modified traffic management system to be investigated by the works promoter

If we encounter unapproved or out of time portable signals we will stop the works and invoke enforcement policy procedures.  The promoter will need to investigate an alternative or modified traffic management system.



  • The provision of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 mean that at least oral approval confirmed in writing is required for all portable traffic signal installations whether encompassing junctions or not.
  • Highway authorities will maintain a register of all applications and approvals issues.
  • Highway authority contacts should be identified within the Streetworks contact page. This is listed on websites or issued at co-ordination meetings.
  • Any changes to a formally authorised application must be agreed by the highway authority.  A new application may be required.


  • Highway authorities may design a scheme on behalf of a promoter. The basis for fees and charges should be agreed in advance.

Liaison with other organisations

  • The promoter is responsible for initial arrangements with other affected organisations such as:
    • public transport operators
    • emergency services
    • adjoining highway authorities
    • traffic control centres

Associated works

  • The continued operation of permanent traffic signals and pedestrian crossings within a portable traffic signals site is prejudicial to public safety. Except in emergency, prior approval must be sought from the highway authority before permanent facilities are suspended.
  • The promoter should establish with the highway authority the arrangements for the suspension and reinstatement of these facilities including identifying the parties authorised to carry out any work.
  • The promoter should identify (in conjunction with the highway authority) any other measures that are necessary to facilitate the works, such as:
    • adjustment of street furniture
    • making of temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) 
    • suspension of any permanent TRO’s (for example No Entry, No Right Turn, One Way Streets, Bus Lanes, Controlled Parking
  • For planned works there is usually a minimum period which is necessary to legally process a temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). Emergency temporary TRO’s are only appropriate for:
    • Emergencies
    • Remedial (dangerous) sites
    • Urgent works (only by specific agreement)

Approval in writing

  • Highway authorities will sign and return the application form to signify “approval in writing” giving the permission to the promoter to place the portable traffic signals specific to the application.
  • Promoters must comply with all conditions unless the highway authority agrees specific variations with the promoter.
  • For changes to the approved application the signed approval in writing must contain any revised conditions.  It will signify “approval in writing” giving the permission to the promoter to place the portable traffic signals specific to the application.