There are certain licences that you will need to operate legally as a skip hire business. The main licences that you are likely to need are listed below.
As your business will be involved in transporting controlled wastes you will require a certificate of registration as an upper tier waste carrier or broker (waste carrier in Scotland). These are issued by the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). In England and Wales this currently costs about £155 for the initial registration fee and a further renewal fee of about £105 every three years. The fees are slightly higher in Scotland and a bit lower in Northern Ireland. Note that a single licence is issued to your business covering all of your waste transporting vehicles. Waste carrier licensing in England and Wales comes within the environmental permitting regime (see below).
If you are going to store any waste at your premises then, unless the amounts are small or an exemption applies, in England and Wales you will need an environmental permit authorising the site as a licensed waste transfer station permitted to carry out specified waste-related activities. The cost of a site licence varies, depending on factors such as the type and amount of waste handled and the specific activities undertaken - several thousand pounds per site is not unusual. The licence lasts until it is surrendered (or revoked following a breach of the conditions), but an annual subsistence charge is payable to cover the cost of inspections and so on. The subsistence charge will also vary, and once again may run to several thousand pounds.
If you have an environmental permit as a waste transfer station you don't need to register separately as a waste broker or dealer if you arrange for waste that you've acquired to be disposed of or stored on sites covered by your permit. But if you send the waste to a site not covered by your permit then you'll need to register with the Environment Agency as an upper tier waste broker.
Businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland that deposit, treat, keep or dispose of waste normally require a waste management licence. As with environmental permits, there is an application fee and an annual subsistence charge.
To find out more about environmental permitting, contact the Environment Agency. In Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and in Scotland contact SEPA. Natural Resources Wales deals with environmental permitting and waste licensing in Wales. More information about environmental permitting and waste management licensing is also available on the Gov.uk and Netregs websites.
Be aware that if scrap metal dealing forms a substantial part of your business then you may need to obtain an appropriate scrap metal dealer's licence from your local authority. If you think you will be handling a large amount of scrap metal then it's wise to check with your local authority. They will also be able to advise you on which type of licence you need.
If you think that you may do any work involving asbestos you will probably need a licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Asbestos Licensing Unit - or from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI). There is a charge for this licence. Further details are available on the HSE and HSENI websites.
As a business operator of large lorries you will need an operator's licence for each Traffic Area in which you have a base. Licences are issued by the Transport Office Traffic Commissioner for that area. There are eight Traffic Areas covering England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland you must obtain a goods vehicle operator's licence. These licences are issued by the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI). You can find out more about goods vehicle operator licensing on the Gov.uk and DfI websites.
It is an offence to drive, or to permit another person to drive a vehicle on the road without a valid driving licence which covers that category of vehicle. To obtain a licence, drivers must take and pass a driving test for the appropriate class of vehicle. To drive a vehicle that exceeds 7.5 tonnes gross weight a driver must hold an LGV (large goods vehicle) licence.
Professional lorry drivers are also required to hold a current certificate of professional competence, which they must renew every five years.
Although it's not mandatory for operators of skip handling machinery to hold a skills registration card, it's a good way of showing that your business complies with the requirement under health and safety legislation for operators to be suitably trained. The Sector Skills Council CITB offers one of the best known card schemes, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS). You can find out more about the CPCS on the CITB website.
Skips that are placed on a public highway require a highway permit from the local authority. This is generally referred to as a 'skip permit' or 'skip operator's licence'. In some cases, a controlled parking permission is required. Charges for these licences vary - your local authority will be able to give you details of charges that apply in your area.
Many local authorities operate a skip hirer registration scheme. Under the scheme, skip hirers who meet requirements such as adequate insurance cover can register with the local authority in order to streamline the skip licensing process - and in some cases to receive a discount on skip licensing costs. In some cases, only skip operators who are registered with the local authority are permitted to place skips on the highway. There is generally an annual fee for registering.
You may decide to equip your skip transporters with radio transceivers so that they can stay in touch with your base. Radio operators must obtain a radiocommunications licence from Ofcom, for which there is an annual fee. The fee will vary according to the number of mobile units you have. Details are available on the Ofcom website.