motorists face 'can't afford to fix it, can't afford to scrap it' dilemma
over old vehicles.
Paul Brown, environment correspondent Tuesday January 14, 2003 The Guardian
An extra 250,000 cars will be abandoned or torched on the streets of Britain
each year as a result of the government's decision to make the poorest
motorists pay for the disposal of their old cars, says a report out today.
The government's mishandling of an EU directive aimed at increasing recycling
of cars and reducing pollution from them will dwarf the problem of the
fridge mountain of 2002 and cost local authorities more than £100m
in clean-up costs, the Institute for European Environmental Policy says.
The government is already nine months late in implementing the EU end-of-life
vehicle directive and has been threatened with prosecution by the European
commission. The Department of Trade and Industry hopes to produce proposals
next month which will make the last owner of the vehicle pay for the cost
of disposal, which it estimates will be £40 but the scrap industry
says will be £100.
The reason for the increased costs is that the directive insists that
waste oil and other fluids, as well as glass, rubber and plastic, are
removed from the 2m vehicles scrapped each year. In the meantime the value
of scrap steel has been falling.
The government also expects local authorities to clamp and remove from
the streets 200,000 unlicensed vehicles a year.
The incentive for law-abiding motorists to pay for their cars to be scrapped
is that they will have to continue paying road tax unless they can prove
they have sold the vehicle, it has been stolen, or a scrapping certificate
But the report says one-third of cars more than 10 years old are owned
by the poorest 20% of the community. "The temptation to avoid paying
the costs of disposal of an old car will probably be greatest for the
least well off. When scrappage results from a sudden breakdown or MOT
failure, many of the least well-off motorists may find themselves in a
'can't afford to fix it, can't afford to scrap it' dilemma. Thus it seems
likely that dumped or burnt-out cars will become even more common in deprived
"The potential impact of this is underlined by a recent circular
from the then DTLR , which comments that: 'Research has indicated that
the presence of abandoned vehicles on the streets encourages crime and
can set a strongly detrimental (and visually harmful) tone to deprived
The DTI is confident the proposed measures will work but the report says
the number of cars abandoned on the streets each year could double to
Suggestions that road tax should be increased by £5 a year to pay
for the disposal of old vehicles so all motorists should share the burden,
or £100 added to the price of a new car so those who can most afford
it should pay, have both been rejected by the Treasury.
John Hesketh, president of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers's Association,
said: "For the 3,000 legitimate scrap operators in this country this
is a nightmare. The cost of these measures is expected to be paid by those
least able to afford it. We will have to charge the last owners and they
simply won't be able to pay the cost.
"Many scrap merchants are likely to shut up shop. There is no market
for the metal and no one is prepared to pay for it. I just cannot see
how we are going to deal with the mountain of unwanted cars. The government
has not got a clue."
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