More than a third of scrap metal firms are still awaiting a formal licence to trade under the new scrap licensing regime because of delays at local authority level, the body representing the UK’s metals recycling industry has claimed.
The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act, aimed at curbing the trade in stolen scrap metal, officially came into effect in October 2013.
Under the law, scrap traders operating and England and Wales are required to register for a licence to trade from their local authority (see letsrecycle.com story).
Scrap dealers are required to register with their local authority for a licence to trade
A two-month temporary licensing period was in effect until December to allow councils to process applications but the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) claims that as many as 40% of some 600 scrap firms it has surveyed are still awaiting their full licence from their local authority.
The association claims the problem of delayed licences is affecting the ability of the authorities to enforce the new regime. It is also causing a loss of business for legitimate traders, as some scrap sellers are unwilling to deal with any operator not able to provide a full licence.
“It is imperative councils struggling with scrap metal dealer licences are given the adequate support to process them as quickly as possible,” warned Ian Hetherington, director general of the BMRA.
“If not, legitimate traders may be put out of business as they are now required to possess a licence to operate legally.
“Enforcing the new legislation is a challenge for local authorities and police because of declining budgets and resources.
“However, the licences are self-financing so sufficient resources must be allocated. Otherwise the new system only increases the administrative burden for law-abiding dealers while illegal operators go unpunished and undermine the industry.”
But the Local Government Association (LGA) has argued any delays to licences being granted should not be impacting on legitimate businesses and claims that as many as 80% of the councils it had surveyed – albeit from a small sample of 42 respondents – had issued licences.
The organisation has also said it will be writing to councils to remind them to notify the Environment Agency of licences that have been issued so that the public register can be brought up to date.
“Existing scrap metal dealers were granted transitional licences when they submitted applications under the new law last October,” said a Local Government Association spokesman. “This allows them to continue trading legally until they are issued a full licence by their council so they should not be experiencing any impact on their legitimate trade.
“Implementing the Scrap Metal Dealers Act has been a challenge for councils but they have worked hard to issue more tan 6,000 licences across the country so far. Delays have been caused by a variety of reasons such as applications submitted incomplete or without the correct fee.
“Some councils have also seen delays after agreeing for every application to be vetted by the police and in receiving disclosure certificates.”