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Scrap metal licensing passes Lords

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Legislation to set up licensing of scrap metal dealers has been passed as part of the fight against scrap metal thieves.

Councils have welcomed the passing of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill through parliament following a campaign to reform the scrap metal trade and tackle rising metal thefts.

Mehboob Khan (Lab), chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said the bill was a huge step towards tackling thefts.

“Councils have long been clear that we need a comprehensive and modern system for running the metal recycling industry, with a proper licensing system to hold scrapyards to account,” he said. “Now that the bill has passed through Parliament, we look forward to working with the Home Office and councils to make sure the system is up and running as quickly as possible.”

The bill, which passed its final reading in the Lords on Tuesday afternoon, was a private members bill from Richard Ottaway MP (Con) and will create a compulsory, local authority-run licensing regime for all scrap traders.

Ottaway, backed by ministers, police, councils, industry and much of the scrap trade, introduced the bill last year to help tackle metal theft and he hailed the success of his bill as a victory for communities targeted by “opportunistic thieves who know they can get rid of stolen metals at rogue or negligent scrap yards”.

He added: “Metal theft is no petty crime. It hits at the heart of our daily lives - grinding trains to a halt, cutting off power supplies to hospitals and other lifelines, stripping roofs off churches and schools at huge public expense.”

Main points of the bill:

  • Require all scrap dealers to hold and display a licence.
  • Empower councils to refuse, vary and revoke scrap metal dealers’ licences and charge a fee to cover the costs of the scheme.
  • Force metal sellers to produce verifiable identification which is recorded and kept for two years by the dealer.
  • Set up a national, public register of scrap metal dealers run by the Environment Agency.
  • Empower police and councils to close unlicensed premises. Dealers would face unlimited fines for trading in cash, being unlicensed or failing to record deals.
  • Cash ban to include itinerant collectors
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