Time is being called on the activities of Tameside cowboy car scrap dealers.
A loophole in vehicle licensing rules that has allowed millions of cars to be scrapped but not deregistered is to be closed after a campaign by Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Chris Davies.
Environmentalists claim that it has led to thousands of tonnes of oil and brake fluid being poured down drains, while millions of old tyres have ended up dumped on wasteland or in the countryside.
The loophole allows owners of old bangers to claim that they are scrapping the cars themselves.
It has been exploited by rogue scrap dealers who use it to avoid paying to meet the depollution requirements of EU end-of-life vehicles legislation introduced 10 years ago.
Now the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea is to start the issue of revised V5C registration forms.
Davies has been working for four years with operators of licensed waste treatment facilities to get the changes made and environmental standards improved.
He said: “The figures suggest that up to a million cars have been taken apart and scrapped on peoples’ driveways in the last 5 years. This is clearly absurd, but it’s been an uphill task to persuade the DVLA to make the changes required.
“Rogue scrap dealers advertising for old cars need to be put of business. They are not paying tax, they harm the environment, and they undercut legitimate vehicle dismantlers.”
However, the DVLA claims that it will take at least two years to issue new registration documents to every car owner and that could mean another 300,000 to 400,000 cars slipping through the net.
Davies, who will shortly meet with new Business Minister Mark Prisk to discuss the issue, wants owners of every car destined for the breaker’s yard to be told that they should insist now that scrap dealers supply them with a
He said: “A Certificate of Destruction is essential. It ensures that the car is deregistered and properly depolluted.”
Davies says that DVLA procedures have until now failed to ensure that vehicles are deregistered even when they have in fact been dismantled. He warns that if a car taken for scrapping is in fact put back on the road by a
rogue trader, the original owner will unknowingly retain responsibility if it is involved in an accident.
“The EU end-of-life directive is a good environment law intended to ensure that the millions of cars disposed of each year are treated properly. The time is long overdue for Britain to apply it across the board.”
Andy Kenny, spokesman for the End of Life Vehicle Recyclers Association said, “Cowboy dealers with a mobile phone and a van have been undercutting legitimate businesses for years with the help of the DVLA.
“Chris Davies has worked with us to slam the door on the people who dump tyres in laybys and pour poisons down the drain.
“There have been many false dawns on this issue and I hope that this time the DVLA will stick to its guns.”