Licensing laws introduced this week will make it tougher for thieves to dispose of stolen scrap metal, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says.
The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013 came into force in England and Wales on Tuesday and replaces legislation governing the recycling of metals for the first time since 1964.
Metal theft has a huge impact on rural businesses in the region, according to the CLA’s regional director for the North, Dorothy Fairburn, and often vital pieces of equipment or building infrastructure are stolen and sold for a tiny fraction of their value.
The CLA has been lobbying for a change to legislation for some time under its Scrap the Cash campaign.
Miss Fairburn said: “We are pleased to see the results of our lobbying victory put in place so metal theft can begin to be tackled.
“Farm machinery, lead stolen from roofs, and copper cable taken from phone lines all cause major problems to rural business and communities.
“These much-needed changes to the system will give local authorities real power to combat the rise of metal theft.”
The new Act provides stricter licensing for scrap metal dealers, whose industry is worth £5.6bn to the UK’s economy.
As a result of the new rules, site-based and mobile scrap dealers, including motor salvage operators, must obtain a licence from their local authority in order to continue operating legally.
As part of the licensing process, the licensing authority will conduct checks on operators’ criminal records and the suitability of applicants to operate as a scrap metal dealer.
A ban on cash payments for scrap metal, introduced last year, is also being extended to all metal dealers including scrap yards, mobile collectors and motor vehicle salvage operators.