Permit questions and answers

Free permits, allowing access to all Somerset recycling sites, were introduced for certain vehicles from Monday 3 October 2016 (with some changes from 30 June 2017 after a review of the first six months’ operation) to tackle a range of problems at sites.  As long as you have your permit displayed they do not limit time or frequency of visit, or which site you choose.

Congestion, out-of-county visitors and illegal commercial waste have created problems for customers at recycling sites, put safety and efficiency at risk, and driven up operating costs.  Permits help tackle this by reducing congestion, improving services and enhancing safety. Similar schemes have been introduced in many other local authorities including all of Somerset’s neighbouring authorities in North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire.

NOTE: If you have an existing permit with a 2019 expiry date, no need to worry; the scheme is being rolled on with no changes. All existing and new cards will remain valid unless any key details – such as your address or vehicle – change. Only then do you need to apply for a new free permit and destroy the old card. Those applying now get a different coloured card with no expiry date.

This mainly depends on the DVLA vehicle classification of your vehicle category which can be found by using the link to the DVLA website provided here.  Look up your vehicle details and check the classification shown in the line called “Vehicle Type Approval”. Where your vehicle does not have a DVLA classification, please contact the SWP office for clarification.

You need a permit if you use a:

  • Vehicles with an ‘N1’ classification, which means ‘designed and constructed for the carriage of goods under 3.5 tonnes’, such as: vans, pick-ups and some Land Rovers.
  • Campervan or minibus with ‘N1’ or ‘M1’ classification.
  • Single-axle trailer of up to three-metre floor length (but only if towed by a car with ‘M1’ classification – including similar pre classified vehicles). Vehicles that require a permit cannot tow a trailer under any circumstances.

You may need a permit if you use a:
Pre DVLA classified vehicle—please contact SWP for clarification where your vehicle does not show a DVLA classification

You cannot apply for a permit or visit any site if you use a:

  • Any vehicle with a ‘M2’, ‘M3’, ‘N2’, ‘N3’.
  • Any Luton van or box van, regardless of classification.
  • Single axle trailer over three-metres floor length.
  • Any multi-axle trailer.
  • Horse box, agricultural vehicle, agricultural trailer.

You do not require a permit unless towing a single axle trailer:

  • Any vehicle (except camper vans & minibuses) with an M1 classification, (or similar pre classified vehicles) ‘designed and constructed for the carriage of people and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat’, such as: most cars, estates & people carriers. Only these vehicles may tow a trailer on to a recycling site.

See our Who needs a permit? page to view our permit pictograms.

Only Somerset residents can apply. You must be a Somerset resident to be eligible for a permit. You can apply on line here.

You can use permits during normal site opening hours.  Even if they have a permit for the towing vehicle, vans, pick-ups, campervans, minibuses, Land Rover  and pick-ups cannot access sites at any time while towing trailers.

The online application will request your name (title, forename, surname) and full postal address, so please check the details are correct. If you are applying for a van permit, you will need to provide the registration, make, model and colour. If the permit is for a pick-up, including Land Rover pick-up, campervan or minibus, apply for a van permit and give the same details. If applying for a trailer permit, provide the registration number of up to two cars – not vans or pick-ups – that you would use to tow your trailer.

Permits are the size and appearance of a credit card. They have no expiry date but are specific to the vehicle and permit holder, and cannot be transferred, sold, given away or exchanged. They should be clearly displayed on your dashboard on every recycling site visit. They remain the property of Somerset Waste Partnership.

NOTE: If you have an existing permit with a 2019 expiry date, no need to worry; the scheme is being rolled on with no changes. All existing and new cards will remain valid unless any key details – such as your address or vehicle – change. Only then do you need to apply for a new free permit and destroy the old card. Those applying now get a different coloured card with no expiry date.

Yes, and it will need to be clearly visible on entry. On occasions, the details of your permit may be inspected by a member of site staff.

Each household is entitled to up to one van permit and one trailer permit.

You cannot, for example, have multiple permits for more than one van at the same household.  You can register up to two car registration to tow a trailer on any trailer permit.

Vans, campervans, minibuses, pick-ups and Land Rover pick-ups cannot access recycling sites if towing any trailer. Please apply for these separately.

Yes, but you must use your residential address in Somerset for the application. It is the residential address of the driver that is relevant for the application.

Yes, but it can only be used to bring your domestic/household waste, and cannot be used to tow any trailer onto any recycling site. There is strict inspection on sites to ensure this is the case and the SWP will investigate further if commercial misuse is suspected, and take appropriate legal action where warranted, and withdraw the permit where proven. Box vans and Luton vans cannot access sites.

Please allow 15 working days from applying online before contacting us. If you have not received your permit after 15 working days, please email, providing your full contact details (address, postcode and day-time phone number), the date you applied for your permit and the type of permit you have applied for (trailer or van), with details of the vehicle(s) and their registration number(s).

If you gave an email address, you would have been emailed with a confirmation note (we suggest you download the confirmation at the end of the application process). This can be used for up to 21 days until your permit arrives.

Yes, if you provided an accurate email address at the time of application and it remains current.

Please complete a new application or visit a Somerset Library for assistance. Old permits will cease to be valid, so should be destroyed.

Destroy the permit or hand it in to any recycling site. Do not transfer the permit when you sell the van, campervan, pick-up or trailer. The new owner must apply for a new permit if they are a Somerset resident and wish to use our sites. Permits cannot be transferred, sold, given away or exchanged. They remain the property of Somerset Waste Partnership.

No. Vans, campervans, mini-buses and pick-ups, including Land Rover pick-ups, are not be permitted to tow trailers of any size on to recycling sites.

Trailers must be towed by a suitable vehicle for safety reasons, so you are not able to park a vehicle off site and tow your trailer in by hand. Trailers must stay attached to the towing vehicle at all times while on site.

Congestion is often caused by large capacity vehicles depositing large loads, and feedback from sites tells us that vehicles equipped to carry very heavy loads can also have an impact on queuing times. A single axle trailer might, for example, take a load of up to 750kg, while a double axle trailer of the same dimensions can carry double that. It seems sensible when implementing these changes that we look at all the root causes of the problems we are trying to address, which is why axles were factored in.

The make, model and type of vehicle you own is given in your V5c vehicle registration document. Your GVW should also be shown in Kgs. The DVLA vehicle classification of your vehicle category can be found by using the link to the DVLA website provided here.  Look up your vehicle details and check the classification shown in the line called “Vehicle Type Approval”. If you cannot find the classification of your vehicle, contact SWP customer services with all your details – name, address, phone, email – and those of their vehicle – type, registration number – by emailing with the subject line “Permit: unclassified vehicle”.

No, but vehicle registration plate details are captured as vehicles enter all recycling sites as part of our ongoing monitoring of site usage for site safety, security and prevention of commercial waste abuse.

You do not need a permit for a short term hire of a van up to 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight (inclusive) or trailer of 3 days or less.  Upon entry to the site speak to a member of staff, show your hire agreement, and complete the waste declaration form they provide. This waiver form is to confirm you are bringing your/their household waste only. Once completed, there is provision on the form for it to act as a temporary permit. Hire vans or pick-ups cannot bring in trailers to any site. This “permit waiver form” will only be offered if the duration of hire can be proven as three days or less. Failure to provide this proof will mean you cannot deposit your waste, so you must bring your hire agreement with you.

IMPORTANT – You cannot visit any site with a hire vehicle or trailer if you use a:

  • – Vehicle with an M2, M3, N2 or N3 classification.
  • – Any Luton van or box van, regardless of classification.
  • – Single axle trailer over three-metres floor length.
  • – Any multi-axle trailer.
  • – Horse box, agricultural vehicle, agricultural trailer.

No, this waiver form is only available to privately hired vans or trailers used for transporting domestic waste. For commercial waste disposal, please see our Business Advice pages.

No. Commercial/business waste can be taken to the 10 Somerset sites licenced to take commercial waste and payment made to dispose of their waste. This will be a commercial transaction with Viridor and commercial users will need to comply with the permit scheme regulations regarding vehicle size and use of trailers. All waste brought to site under this exemption MUST be paid for to dispose of. Under no circumstances will vehicles bringing waste under this exemption be able to deposit household/domestic waste.

See our Business Waste Services page for more information.

The review that led Somerset Waste Board (councillors from Somerset’s county and the then five district councils) to agree on the new measures was prompted and informed by many sources.

These included: site customers’ feedback; daily site operations reviews; reports from sites contractor Viridor; thorough monitoring of site health and safety; and a survey of 39 other local authorities in this region and across the country.

An independent customer survey was commissioned in late 2015, which showed an 87% satisfaction rating with recycling sites, but a majority of site users wanting action on large vehicles and out-of-county visitors.

That review process established the following action priorities:

  • Reduce vehicle and trailer unloading times to ensure that all Somerset residents have as swift and smooth access as possible
  • Cut congestion and costs from non-paying out-of-county vehicles using our sites as a result of their own county’s restrictions
  • Unblock access, enhance site safety and minimise risks posed by the largest and least manoeuvrable vehicles and trailers
  • Stop Somerset residents being forced to pay for waste taken to sites by unlawful commercial users

Our research tells us that significant numbers of non-Somerset residents with vans and trailers use Somerset sites. All neighbouring councils have restrictions that, in effect, encourage their residents to use our sites while Somerset residents cannot access theirs in the same manner.

Somerset household numbers continue to increase and site visits have risen from around 1.1 million in 2011/12 to almost 1.6 million in 2015/16. The result is growing congestion at all Somerset sites that must be addressed to help all residents have an efficient, easy and low-risk visit whenever they deposit household waste.

The current budget difficulties experienced by most local authorities, including Somerset, mean that there is no prospect to aid congestion through adding hours back in to the opening times at our recycling sites.

Until 3 October 2016, no restrictions existed – except those essential for safety – on the vehicles, trailers or combinations of both that coul access recycling sites. And no restrictions existed on where the recycling site user lived, even though only Somerset residents pay for the recycling sites in their council tax, of which waste services cost around £172 a year.

Following 3 October 2016, and a full review of the system that brought changes from 30 June 2017, the new measures:

  • Require Somerset residents to have a permit for any van, pick-up, campervan, minibus or trailer entering a Somerset recycling site.
  • To reduce unloading times, limit the size of vans and trailers eligible for a permit.
  • Stop residents or businesses from outside Somerset seeking a permit to deposit waste without paying.

Although the new measures gave eligible vans, pick-ups, campervans, minibuses and trailers separate permits, no van, pick-up, campervan or minibus can be used in conjunction with a trailer.

Until the permit scheme began, van-trailer combinations took the space of several vehicles, particularly those with double axles or drop-down ramps, such as horseboxes or box trailers, and the size, poor sight lines and limited manoeuvrability of larger vehicles with trailers added to safety concerns.

By carrying much more and taking far longer to unload – up to an hour in some instances – even if assisted by site staff, vans, pick-ups, campervans and minibuses with trailers denied that limited space and the often vital supportive help of staff to other residents.

Again to reduce congestion, business users who pay their way to deposit trade waste are required to observe the same new measures as residents, but do not need to apply for a permit. These measures include access times and vehicle limitations at eight of the 10 business sites they use, and steps are taken to ensure residents are not delayed at the remaining two sites.

Permits last until 30 September 2019 and are free to all who comply with the terms and conditions. Each Somerset household can have one permit for a specific van, campervan, minibus or pick-up, including Land Rover pick-up, and one trailer permit with details of two towing cars (not vans, campervans, minibuses or pick-ups, as they can no longer bring in a trailer to any Somerset recycling site).

Permits cannot be transferred or altered; any changes require a new application and the old permit to be destroyed. Applications can be made on the Somerset Waste Partnership website, or if personal online access is not possible, with free support at any of Somerset’s 34 libraries.

While we cannot eliminate congestion altogether and delays will happen from time to time, the new measures are making a significant and positive contribution to improve services, enhance safety and reduce costs while controlling congestion.

The overwhelming majority of users bring in household waste using a car without a trailer, including estates, 4x4s, people carriers and SUVs, and so need no permit.