Sections 139 and 140 of the Highways Act 1980 relate to the control of builders' skips placed on public highways. 'Builders' skip' means a container designed to be carried on a vehicle and placed on a highway or other land for the storage of builders' materials, or for the removal of builders' rubble, household and other rubbish.
On 21st January 1985, the Builders' Skips (Markings) Regulations 1984 came into effect placing ownership not only on the company owning and operating the skip, but equally upon the hirer of the skip for the duration it is within their care.
Prior to a builders' skip being placed upon a public highway, permission must be obtained from the highway authority. Although a form of permission (permit) may be given, it is unconditionall and subject to conditions specified in the permit, which may relate to:
- siting of the skip;
- its dimensions;
- the manner in which it is to be coated with paint or other material to make it visible to traffic;
- the care and disposal of its contents;
- the manner in which it must be lit or guarded;
- its removal at the end of the period of use or date of expiry of the permit.
The placing of a skip on the public highway without permission; or failing to adhere to the conditions under the regulations, is an offence carrying a fine of up to £5,000. Under the Act, where a builders' skip is placed on the highway in accordance with permission granted by the local authority, the owner is responsible for ensuring that:
- the skip is properly lit at night;
- the skip is clearly and indelibly marked with the owner's name and telephone number or address;
- the skip is removed as soon as practicable after it has been filled;
- each of the conditions in the permit is complied with.
The highway authority or a police constable in uniform can require the owner of a skip to remove or reposition it or cause this to be done. Failure to comply is an offence carrying a fine of up to £5,000. If the highway authority or a constable has a skip removed or repositioned, the expenses incurred can be claimed from the owner. In certain circumstances, a skip and contents can be disposed of if not claimed.
Markings and Visibility
The Builders' Skips (Markings) Regulations 1984 (SI 1933/84) require that all builders' skips left on the highway in England and Wales are fitted with red and yellow markings on each end which are both fluorescent and reflective. The markings must:
- comply with BS AU152 1970 and be marked with that number;
- be clearly visible to road users from a reasonable distance;
- be fitted as near as possible to the top outer corners of the ends of the skip but must not be obscured by any lip or other part of the skip;
- be placed so that the top of the marking is not more than 1.5 metres above ground;
- not be fitted to a lid and should only be fitted to a door when there is no alternative. In this case the door must be left open for the minimum possible period.
- Each skip shall be placed as near the edge of the carriageway as possible without obstructing the surface water drainage or any manhole or apparatus of the Council or any statutory undertaker.
- When more than one skip is placed on the highway at any one time, they shall be placed as close as possible to each other without obstructing the access to any premises unless the consent of the occupier has been obtained.
- The skip(s) shall not be placed within 14 metres of any authorised bus stop, or road junction.
- Each skip shall not exceed 5 metres in length and 2 metres in width.
- The ends of each skip shall be painted yellow and there shall be attached thereto a strip of material the fixing and composition of which complies with the Builders' Skip (Markings) Regulations 1984 (broad red fluorescent and yellow reflecting diagonal strips) which shall be kept dean at all times.
- Cones shall be placed on the approach to the skip, tapered at approximately 45 degrees to the kerb line, with cones spaced at 1.2 metres apart.
- During the hours of darkness red warning lamps shall be placed at each corner of the skip(s) and between each traffic cone.
- No skip shall contain any inflammable, explosive, noxious, dangerous or other material which is, or is likely to become, a nuisance to users of the highway.
- Each skip shall be removed for emptying as soon as practicable and in any case not later than 2 working days after it has been filled.
- The skip(s) shall be removed at the expiration of the stated period and the highway left in a clean and tidy condition.
- Skips provided in or around shopping centres shall be removed overnight or provided with lockable covers.
- A minimum width of unobstructed carriageway of 3.25 metres shall be maintained.
- Builders skips shall not be placed on footways.