New licensing rules: Scotland to clamp down illegal waste tyre disposal

Altreifen (Foto: ©Thorsten Jutzie /

Edinburgh, Scotland – Tough new licensing rules are being introduced to clamp down on the illegal storage and disposal of waste tyres. Under current laws, no licence is required to process a small number of tyres. To avoid abuses of the existing system, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has now confirmed plans to remove the exemption after a number of serious incidents involving unlicenced operators – including a case where more than 100,000 tyres were illegally stored near Wishaw General Hospital.

As Richard Lochhead said, „the illicit disposal and storage of waste tyres is dangerous and costs the taxpayer a fortune to clean up. It is extremely concerning the way the current system is being persistently abused by irresponsible operators, including organised crime gangs which are known to target the waste industry. That is why the Scottish Government is strengthening the legislation so that all waste tyre processing will require a licence. This will help put a stop to illegal dumping and other unsafe practices, which will in turn reduce the risk of large, toxic and potentially deadly fires.“

And he added: “Removing the existing exemption should also make it harder for unscrupulous operators to undercut legitimate, licenced companies which responsibly dispose of and recycle waste tyres.”

The regulations are enforced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). SEPA’s Executive Director, Calum MacDonald, underlined: „We welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement today that legislation on waste tyre processing will be strengthened. This is an important step in tackling environmental crime, and sends a strong message out to those involved in illegal waste activity.“

Regarding the criminal aspects, Calum MacDonald argued: „Organised crime in the waste industry is a real problem which puts our environment and communities at risk, and undermines legitimate businesses. Our vision is a waste sector which is free from environmental crime. New enforcement powers, enhanced intelligence gathering and working in partnership with other agencies has helped us to make significant progress towards this vision. The introduction of new rules on licences to process waste tyres will make it much more difficult for illegal operators to flout the regulations, and will be a key asset as we continue to crack down on waste crime.“

Secondary legislation has now been laid before the Scottish Parliament. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016 will come into force on March 30, 2016. Prior to these changes, the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations 2011 Regulations allowed operators to register a Paragraph 17 exemption to store up to 1,000 waste tyres (just under 10 tonnes) on a site at any one time, so long as they registered the exemption with SEPA. Operators often also register a complementary Paragraph 11 exemption, which allows the sorting, baling or shredding of up to 10 tonnes of waste tyres at any one time. The new regulations remove these exemptions and require operators carrying out these activities to hold a licence.

Source: The Scottish Government