The RHA has welcomed a warning from Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton (pictured) that skip and grab hire firms using restricted licences to transport waste must upgrade to a standard national licence or risk having their licences revoked.

The clamp down follows a recent public inquiry in Cambridge, over the business activities of Leicester-based Wigston Skip Hire.

The firm tried to apply for a restricted licence so that it could hire out skips and then transport the waste to other companies’ waste transfer stations.

Wigston’s owner James March argued that all skip hire businesses in his area were operating under a restricted licence.

At the inquiry, the company’s transport consultant told the Traffic Commissioner that “requiring Mr March to apply for a standard national licence, with all the expense and difficulty of acquiring the services of a transport manager which that would entail, would put him at a competitive disadvantage against those many skip operators …which operated under a restricted licence.”

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However, TC Nick Denton refused the application and said it fell foul of the licensing requirements. He said a more “robust and consistent manner” was now being applied to the definition of ‘hire and reward’ and applications for a restricted licence were being refused if it was clear that the sole function of the operator was the transport of waste.

In his written decision, Denton said: “I note (the) argument that fair competition would be prejudiced if Mr March were denied a restricted licence.

“However, I note too that, for the past three years at least, traffic commissioners have been applying the hire or reward definition in a more robust and consistent manner than might previously have been the case; they have been refusing applications for restricted licences by would-be skip hire and grab hire operators whose sole or main function would be the transport of waste.”

The TC added a clear warning: “As the restricted licences of such businesses have fallen for renewal, the opportunity has been taken to require them to upgrade to standard national licences or face having their restricted licences revoked."

RHA has welcomed the decision as a way of creating a fair and level playing field for operators. Phil Snowden, RHA membership director, said: "This is the right call. The RHA believes in a fair and level playing field for operators and it appears some may be flexing the rules: what we want is consistency to ensure safety which is always paramount to us and our members.”