Action! Film firms queue up on high road to Herts as new rules bring cash to county

Robert Downey Jnr is among the stars whove been on location in Herts.

Robert Downey Jnr is among the stars whove been on location in Herts. - Credit: Archant

Slough has slipped across the county border into Hertfordshire thanks to film-friendly local authorities.

A major Hollywood blockbuster and a prime-time TV series are among productions that have made use of a law giving new powers to close roads for filming.

The Herts County Council-backed Filming on the Highways Act, which became law last year, has allowed film and TV production companies to operate traffic management, such as temporary signals, or even temporarily close roads, at more than 20 locations in the past six months.

Stars including Robert Downey Jnr, Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johansson descended on the county when Marvel comic blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron used the law for the first time to close a public footpath last year.

Hotly-anticipated Sky 1 comedy-drama Apocalypse Slough has used a variety of locations in the county as backdrops for the days leading up to a comet colliding with the Earth. The 10-part series features Rob Lowe in the starring role.

Other productions that have worked with the county council to arrange location filming in recent months include a top secret major Hollywood production, BBC drama Dr Foster in Croxley Green and an advert for a luxury cosmetics brand.

Last year, location filming by 79 productions brought £8.6m into the county with a single feature film worth up to £42,000 a day to the local economy.

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David Williams, County Hall’s lead member for enterprise, said: “I am delighted that the Filming on the Highways Act has helped raise the profile of the county as a place that welcomes production companies.

“We worked hard to get this act through Parliament, which makes Hertfordshire only the second local authority in the country to have powers to close roads for filming.

“It’s great to see that more production companies see us an appealing and convenient filming location.

“By attracting production companies, we’re seeing more investment for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

Since the law was passed, the majority of requests have been for temporary traffic management, such as temporary traffic lights or stop/go boards around filming locations.

The county says it works hard to be as accommodating as possible, allowing roads to be closed at short notice as the film production process is unpredictable.

Production companies are still expected to meet the same standards as utility companies and comply with national safety legislation and have appropriate insurance in place.