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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Scrap Metal Dealers Bill may help end metal theft

MANY farmers in this area will, sadly, have been the victims of metal theft.

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Andrew Pye

After months of hard work, I may have some good news for farms that have been affected, as the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill has successfully completed its passage through parliament.

Until we see the published act we need to be slightly cautious, but knowing that it has all-party support, I think we can be confident that it will receive the Royal Assent without a hitch.

The act bans scrap metal cash transactions completely.

Payment may only be by cheque or by an electronic transfer of funds (authorised by credit or debit card or otherwise).

It also beefs up the licensing regime, recording requirements and powers of entry.

The act ought to go a long way towards clamping down on rogue dealers and removing the market for stolen metal. It won’t halt metal theft overnight, but there should be a big improvement within months of its enactment.

And while on the subjects of bills and laws, things must be changed to improve the traceability of horses amid new research showing an increase in fly-grazing – something that is sure to have played a part in the recent horsemeat scandal.

The NFU believes the Horse Passport Regulations (2009) are not working and that further laws should also be amended to give local authorities and police clear powers to act when private land owners have horses dumped on their land.

The large numbers of horses being dumped on farmland must be going somewhere when their owners collect them, and it is certainly possible that a lot of them are being moved across borders and into abattoirs using forged passports.

The passport system has been described as shambolic, and clearly it is not effective.

The government must make the changes necessary to ensure that the system meets the need for traceability while not impeding the efforts of farmers who need to get abandoned horses off their land.

The NFU has developed an action plan, which includes changes in the law, as well as details on how police and local authorities can deal with the problem effectively and appropriately, as well as support from the insurance industry and how the NFU can help its members.

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