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Builders' skips

This page contains:

England and Wales
  Deposit of a builder’s ship on the highway
  Meaning of builder’s skip
  Regulations for lighting, marking and design of skip
  Permission to deposit a skip
Northern Ireland


The waste control aspects of operating builders’ skips is part of the general waste regulation. There are also specific Highways regulations affecting the operation of skips.

There is a UK.GOV portal to apply for a skip operator licence for England and Wales.

Regulations differ in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

England and Wales

Deposit of a builder’s skip on the highway

A builder's skip may not be deposited on a highway without the permission of the highway authority for the highway.

Meaning of builder’s skip

'Builder's skip' means a container designed to be carried on a road vehicle and to be placed on a highway or other land for the storage of builders' materials, or for the removal and disposal of builders' rubble, waste, household and other rubbish or earth (Highways Act 1980 s. 139, (as amended)).

Regulations for lighting, marking and design of skip

Where a builder's skip has been deposited on a highway in accordance with such permission, the owner of the skip must secure that the skip is:

* properly lighted during the hours of darkness, and where regulations made by the appropriate national authority require a skip to be marked in accordance with the regulations, whether by reflecting or fluorescent material or otherwise, that it is so marked;

* clearly and indelibly marked with the owner's name and with his telephone number or address;

* removed as soon as practicable after it has been filled; and

* that each of the conditions subject to which the permission was granted is complied with.

Design and marking regulations: the Builders' Skips (Markings) Regulations 1984 (1984 No 1933) contain detailed requirements for the design and marking of builders’ skips.
Owner of skip: an ‘owner', in relation to a builder's skip which is the subject of a hiring agreement, being an agreement for a hiring of not less than one month, or a hire purchase agreement, means the person in possession of the skip under that agreement (Highways Act 1980 s 139(11)).

Permission to deposit a skip

Permission: a permission under the Highways Act 1980 s 139(1) is a permission for a person to whom it is granted to deposit, or cause to be deposited, a skip on the highway specified in the permission. A a highway authority may grant such permission either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as may be specified in it. In particular, conditions relating to the siting of the skip, its dimensions, the manner in which it is to be coated with paint and other material for the purpose of making it immediately visible to oncoming traffic, the care and disposal of its contents, the manner in which it is to be lighted or guarded, and its removal at the end of the period of permission.

Effect of permission: a permission to deposit a skip is to be taken as authorising the creation of a nuisance or of a danger to users of a highway or as imposing on a highway authority by which a permission has been granted any liability for any injury, damage or loss resulting from the presence on a highway of the skip to which the permission relates.
Application for permission: application should be made to the local highway authority which may impose conditions such as the obtaining of public liability insurance cover. Some authorities operate a registered supplier scheme which facilitates applications.

Tacit consent: it appears that some authorities apply tacit consent and some do not.
Implied consent: it has been held that where contractors had written authority to carry out road works from the local authority, they had implied consent to deposit a skip on the highway: AA King (Contractors) Ltd v Page (1970) 68 LGR 576, DC


Criminal enforcement

If a builder's skip is deposited on a highway without such permission, the owner of the skip is guilty of an offence. It is a defence for the person charged to prove that the skip was deposited on it in accordance with a permission granted under these provisions and either that each of the statutory requirements had been complied with, or that the commission of any offence by failing to comply with a requirement was due to the act or default of another person and that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of such an offence by himself or any person under his control

(see: Lambeth London Borough Council v Saunders Transport Ltd [1974] RTR 319, DC.).
The penalty for conviction of the above offences on summary conviction is a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale: s 139(3) (note: there are powers to render such an offence as a fixed penalty offence)..

What's new items on this topic: [see What's new page or archive for full item]

03/03/2014: London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2013
The London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2013 amends the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2008. Certain provisions of the Act come into force on 18 February 2014 and the rest will come into force when the Government makes the necessary commencement order.
A highway authority will be able to require the ‘relevant person’ to provide information about the owner of builders' skips deposited on the highway in London, in order to determine who penalty charge notices should be served on in respect of decriminalised contraventions of the Highways Act 1980.

22/05/2013: Skip hire company and owner fined GBP5,000 for waste offences
Abbey Skip Hire Limited, of Pioneer Mill, Milltown Street, Radcliffe has pleaded guilty to breaching environmental permitting regulations at its site, and the company’s owner John Francis Lally pleaded guilty to offences relating to the failure to complete and sign waste transfer notes. as legally required.

Northern Ireland

Control of builder's skips are contained in the Northern Ireland (The Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993).

Further information: nidirect


The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 s.85 contains regulations similar to those in England.

Further information:

[Page updated: 06/02/2017]


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