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2002-02-27 20:28:13
Abandoned Cars Set to Pile Up on Local Streets

The problem of old cars being abandoned in Southport is set to increase unless the Government takes effective steps to pay for new measures aimed at reducing pollution and increasing recycling.

Southport Euro-MP Chris Davies has warned that Britain is set to miss by months the April deadline for implementing a new EU environmental law, and he has accused Whitehall departments of confusion and dithering.

With two million cars scrapped in Britain each year, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman claims that if the Government makes the wrong decisions it will make the current problem of disposing of old fridges pale into insignificance.

Abandoned cars are already a major problem for local authorities. The 350,000 old bangers dumped last year cost councils as much as 300 per vehicle to get to crushers. The situation has worsened because low scrap prices have taken away incentives to encourage proper disposal. Now metal processors are warning that they may be unable to accept any old cars unless they are compensated for the cost of the new requirements.

Scrapped cars present major pollution hazards and the EU End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, which is due to be turned into British law by April 21, requires the removal of all fluids such as oil and brake fluid and coolant, batteries, tyres, catalytic converters and known hazardous substances such as mercury. The long term aim is to ensure that 95% of vehicle content is recovered.

Although car manufacturers will become responsible for the disposal of the vehicles they have made from 2007, the Government has to provide a financial bridge until then. With the cost of the anti-pollutant measures estimated at 50, and the scrap value of old cars now less than 30, metal processors are refusing to invest in equipment to do the job until firm payment arrangements are agreed.

Chris Davies says that the Government has yet to say how the costs will be met or even to agree exact details of the work which vehicle dismantlers will be required to carry out.
The Euro-MP claims that with buck-passing between the two government departments responsible, DTI and DEFRA, Britain is set to be years late in introducing procedures which are widely recognised as making good environmental sense.
Mr Davies commented: "The new EU rules were agreed just 18 months ago but officials have been discussing them for more than six years and ministers still haven't even made the basic decisions about how to finance the work."
He said that other countries had taken action, with a tax of 80 on new vehicles introduced six years ago in the Netherlands to pay for eventual disposal costs. It has created a fund which is used to pay metal processors who provide a legal certificate of destruction.

With car prices in Britain coming down after years of consumers here being overcharged, Mr Davies said that a similar tax would hardly be noticed by buyers who are now able to save thousands by shopping around.

"A disposal tax on new vehicles would provide a win-win solution. It would be good for the environment and it would help curb the problem of old cars being dumped in our streets," he explained.

The MEP is also calling for tougher registration arrangements so that owners can no longer simply abandon end-of-life vehicles with impunity, and he wants enforcement arrangements introduced to ensure that all vehicle dismantlers keep to the anti-pollution rules.
But he warns that with new DVLA electronic certification arrangements not expected to be in place until next year at the earliest, Britain's implementation of the directive is set to be years late.

Article submitted by A.Cutting on behalf of Chris Davies Euro MP
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