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Million cars are scrapped illegally

Illegal scrapyards that fail to stick to the rules about removing pollutants from vehicles are making a mint from disposing of up to a million old bangers a year, an investigation by Metro and Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has revealed.

The cowboy dealers are taking advantage of the rocketing price of scrap metal in the rapidly growing economies of India and China. In ten years, its value has soared from £6 to £200 a tonne.

Merchants are eager to cash in, but they are not so keen on making sure a car is disposed of cleanly – preventing its oil and other chemicals from seeping into the land.

One in every ten tonnes of hazardous waste in the European Union is believed to come from motor vehicles.

Under EU law, ‘depollution’ must be completed by all legitimate scrap merchants. They must also make sure that 85 per cent of scrapped cars are recycled.

It’s an expensive business and backstreet merchants are getting around it by getting car owners to tick a box on their vehicle papers claiming they scrapped it themselves, says MEP Chris Davies.

He fears many drivers don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

When they tick the box, they are claiming they have safely taken apart the vehicle bit by bit in line with EU regulations – a job that is beyond many mechanics. Legitimate businesses say they are being pushed to the brink of closure by the cowboys. Andy Kenny, of the End of Life Vehicle Recyclers Association, says authorised dealers are losing £200million a year – half the industry’s value – to illegal merchants.

The government’s own estimates say only 900,000 of the 2million cars scrapped this year will have a certificate to prove they were disposed of legally.

by John Higginson,