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Outlaw scrap merchants overrun the wild west

The West Country has become a haven for metal recyclers that flout the law for a quick buck, according to local scrap dealers.

It is the result of lacklustre policing by the Environment Agency (EA) and insufficient fines for those that are caught, said WH Orchards director Graham Orchards.

"There are about half a dozen sites in my area operating without a license" added Orchards, whose firm is based near Liskeard, Cornwall.

The End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) regulations state that only yards with a waste management licence, a concreted surface and a vehicle depollution rig can become an Approved Treatment Facility (ATF) for the recycling of old bangers.

Orchards spent over £50,000 on the necessary equipment to be in line with the law, but he said there was no deterrent for companies that failed to do this.

He added: "When a company is fined £1000, that's nothing to them considering the price of scrap and the money they can get for an illegally baled car."

Gormans Metals of Newton Abbot, Devon was recently fined £1,000 with £576 costs for baling up to 100 cars per day at an unlicensed site, which left oil covering the yard's non-concreted surface (see mrw story).

The firm is a sister company of G H Newbery & Son, which was last year found guilty of dumping waste including asbestos in Dartmoor National Park and fined £12,000.

Although, this does not mean that the above companies are not operating within the law now.
A metal recycler in Devon, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It is about time the EA gave out heavier fines to companies that repeatedly break the law. All of us merchants in Devon wonder when these repeat offenders will be stopped making a quick buck. They are making a mockery of the law."

However, an Environment Agency spokesman said: "The Environment Agency can bring these firms to court, but then it's up to the magistrate how much they get fined."

Orchards accused the EA of ignorance of the industry, but British Metals Recycling Asscoation (BMRA) director-general Rick Wilcox defended the work of the agency.

He said: "In some ways this is a grey market that is almost unenforceable. The EA's resources are limited and they have a difficult job. It needs more resources to tackle the problem, instead of simply cherry-picking cases."

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