Legislation Governing Builders’ Skip Permits


The placement of builders’ skips and containers on the highway is governed by the Highways Act 1980 Section 139. Within this a local authority is given discretion to determine the following:

  • 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

This means that each local authority has its own interpretation of what constitutes a skip, and how it should be marked, located and lighted.

Specification of a builders’ skip

Within the regulations a builders’ 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 the removal and disposal of builders’ rubble, waste, household and other rubbish or earth and shall, when carried on a road vehicle, comply with the appropriate Motor Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations.

In Bradford, for example, a skip is defined as a container that shall not exceed 5m in length and 2m in width. Whereas in Newcastle, for example, a 20ft storage container will be managed under a skip permit. Some councils have a scale of charges depending on the size of the skip, and others have a single price for any size.


As a minimum:

  • The builders’ skip shall be clearly and permanently marked with the owner’s name and with his telephone number or address.
  • The container should be clearly visible at all times with vertical red and yellow fluorescent reflective markings at each end in accordance with the Builders’ Skips (Markings) Regulations 1984 (SI 1984/1933) (effective 1 January 1986) and BSS All 152 1970.
  • If on a highway then cones and lights are required to comply with Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual, and the ends shall be painted yellow. During the hours of darkness the owner shall provide, maintain and light four yellow lamps, fixed securely to the skip(s), one to each corner.
  • The skip(s) shall be placed in such a position as to be clearly visible to traffic approaching from either side at a distance of not less than 100m (330ft)
  • It shall neither be placed within a distance of 30m (100ft) from a road junction nor in such a position to block any sight line at an entrance, junction or bend nor to impede surface water drainage not obstruct access to property, fire hydrants, gullies, manholes and apparatus of any
  • Statutory Undertaker, nor be placed in such a position as to contravene any Traffic Order or regulation made under the Road Traffic Acts. It/they shall, when sited in the carriageway, be placed near the edge of the carriageway with the longer side parallel thereto.
  • It/they shall not be placed in such a position as to partly or wholly obstruct a footway without the express permission of the Strategic Director for Environment & Infrastructure or his representative, to be granted only after consultation and agreement with the police and conditional upon a one metre wide pedestrian walkway being provided in the carriageway, properly protected and signed and with yellow lights lighted at night.

Hoarding Licence

If a local authority deems that the skip falls outside of their interpretation of section 139 for a builders’ skip then they will often cite Highways Act 1980 section 169 which can be summarised as:

A license is required where building, demolition work or the alteration, repair, maintenance or cleaning of any building, requires to erect or retain on the highway any scaffolding or other structure which obstructs the highway (hereafter in this section referred to as a “relevant structure”).

The container is being considered as a ‘relevant structure’. The requirements of this relevant structure vary dependent on the local authority. Some may treat this as a construction site requiring hoarding, cones and illumination. Others may simply require a hoarding license.

What To Do

For every site we need to establish the ownership of the land upon which skips or containers are placed. Housing association land is most likely to be owned by the council and will require a permit.

Please notify Red Kite Recycling of any intended site at least a week in advance in order to determine ownership with the council, provide quotes, apply for any permits, and order the skips.