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Number of dumped cars set to soar

Poorest 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 is produced.

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 areas.

"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 communities'."

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 600,000.

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."

This article was kindly provided by ScoWaste, a mailing list run by SRMS for RAGS and FoE Scotland.

























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