Motorists who sneak in to bus lanes could soon face automatic fines – as Hertfordshire highways chiefs consider plans for a network of road-side cameras.

Currently the county council does not have any ‘unattended enforcement cameras’ on its network of highways – although there are some speed cameras operated by the police on the county’s roads.

But now it is considering plans for a network of cameras to crack down on the misuse of bus lanes and bus ‘gates’.

The move was backed in principle by a meeting of the county council’s highways and environment panel, on Monday (February 3).

If it is backed by a meeting of the cabinet, council officers will start to identify potential camera sites – as well as looking at the ‘back-office’ technology required, as well as costs.

According to a report to the cabinet panel, the use of the cameras would improve traffic flow and the reliability of bus services and would promote sustainable modes of transport.

The report says the cameras would be designed to change the behaviour of motorists – rather than raise revenue.

The report states: “Raising revenue is not the intention, and an appropriate appeals process would be used to provide confidence that motorists are treated fairly.”

Revenues raised through penalty notices would be used to support the operating costs of the system – with any surplus used on highways improvements.

Work to identify initial sites for the cameras will not begin until the proposal is backed by the cabinet.

But those sites are likely to include areas where existing bus gates or rising bollards are frequently damaged.

Highlighting the Thorley bus lane, Cllr Colin Woodward said the scheme would not just improve the reliability of the bus service – but the safety of those on the buses too.

Current legislation means that the county council can only use cameras to enforce restrictions on bus lanes and bus gates.

But, in future, the Traffic Management Act 2004 – which has not been commenced – could extend these to other restrictions, such as the enforcement of weight limits, which Cllr Bibby said would be “more useful”.

Cllr Roma Mills said she would be pleased if they could be extended to those who failed to adhere to ‘no right turn’ restrictions.

The report also noted that unattended camera enforcement would be required for the proposed clean air zone, in Broxbourne.