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Abandoned Vehicles

Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to reduce the number of abandoned cars; and if he will make a statement. (114646)

The number of abandoned vehicles has significantly reduced over the last few years. DEFRA’s Waste Data Flow survey shows that there has been a 58 per cent. reduction from 294,000 in 2002-03 to an estimated 126,000 in 2005-06.

The end-of-life vehicle directive (ELV) sets out measures to recycle and reuse end-of-life vehicles and their components to reduce the amount of waste sent for disposal. The producer responsibility obligations mean that, since 1 January 2007, vehicle producers have been required to make available an adequate network of facilities where last owners can receive free take-back for their vehicles.

Best Value Performance Indicator 218 was introduced to record the percentage of vehicles investigated within 24 hours of the report being received and the percentage of vehicles being removed within 24 hours of being legally entitled to do so. This will encourage local authorities to clear vehicles from the road as quickly as possible and therefore reduce the probability of arson and associated antisocial behaviour. This is a mandatory local area agreement indicator for all local authorities in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal funding.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 gives local authorities more powers to deal with abandoned cars. All vehicles abandoned on a road can now be removed as soon as they are identified. The definition of ‘road’ has been widened, so abandoned vehicles can be removed immediately from any road. Rules on disposing of abandoned vehicles have been simplified. Abandoned vehicles that are only fit for destruction, or those that do not display a license or number plate, can now be destroyed immediately. If local authorities are unable to find the owner of a vehicle, or if the owner does not collect the vehicle within seven days of being contacted, the vehicle can be disposed of. Also, local authorities can impose fixed penalties of £200, in lieu of prosecution, if the owner of an abandoned vehicle can be identified.

DEFRA is also working closely with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to increase the percentage of vehicles that are registered. The introduction of continuous registration and the statutory off-road notice have made it easier to provide a clear picture of vehicle ownership through the vehicle register. 93 local authorities have received training and devolved powers from the DVLA to remove unlicensed vehicles from the road. It is often unlicensed vehicles that end up abandoned and/or are involved in criminal activity and therefore the quicker they are identified and removed the better. It is likely that the number of abandoned vehicles will continue to decrease as the percentage of unlicensed vehicles is reduced.