Environment Agency Gets Tough On Illegal Vehicle Breakers
On 28 September 2018 the Environment Agency announced its partnership with eBay to take on illegal car breakers who use the site to trade car parts. This announcement comes shortly after HMRC announced its monitoring of ‘open source’ internet data and trading sites in order to obtain evidence when investigating tax offences.
This move is expected to cause an increase in applications for the necessary environmental permits to make businesses legal. Business sellers who list used vehicle parts now receive a ‘pop up’ message to highlight that a permit is required to break vehicles. According to the Environment Agency, it has been discovered that some car breakers and traders are operating whilst unaware of the need to have a permit. Research also suggests that they are also unaware of how to properly dismantle a vehicle, dispose of hazardous waste, deal with fire risks and the general subsequent risk to the environment.
An ‘End of Life Vehicle’ (or ‘ELV’) is a vehicle that is classed as waste. Waste is anything that is discarded, intend to be discarded or is required to be discarded. This includes metal you send for reuse or recycling. It is a legal requirement that an ELV is depolluted by an ‘Authorised Treatment Facility’ (or an ‘ATF’) and is issued with a Certificate of Destruction where required.
Becoming an Authorised Treatment Facility
To run an ATF and store, handle and take apart ELVs, you must follow the general ATF duties which include but are not limited to the following:
- All scrap cars must be issued with an official Certificate of Destruction when they reach their end of life. The Certificates apply to passenger vehicles and light goods vehicles under 3 ½ tonnes and also 3 wheeled motor vehicles. The Certificate must be issued to the person bringing in the vehicle without charge and this should be retained by that person indefinitely.
- Where a trader depollutes and scraps a vehicle a Certificate must be generated on the DVLA online system. When the Environment Agency accepts a trader as an ATF they will then notify the DVLA who then contacts the trader with a view to setting up an account on their system.
- The trader must depollute all ELVs. Where they are not fully depolluted, ELVs become hazardous waste and specific hazardous waste rules then apply and the trader must also keep certain relevant records.
- Store parts for resale safely.
- Store any parts that could contain liquids on an impermeable surface.
- Store liquids safely by type, in separate, clearly labelled and leak-proof containers. Keep them in a bund to contain spills or leaks.
- Store batteries safely under cover and upright in clearly labelled, acid-resistant, leak-proof and weather proof containers.
- Store car shells safely when fully depolluted on a hardstanding and impermeable surface.
- Meet recycling and recovery targets of 95% for ELVs and complete the necessary documentation when you operate outside a network that take back ELVs of particular makes.
In addition to complying with ATF duties, traders must also have the following in place:
- Planning permission from their local council;
- The correct environmental permit pursuant to The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, for the specific treatment that the site carries out.
- A Scrap Metal Dealer’s Licence from the local council.
Expert Opinion"As best practice, traders are also encouraged by the Environment Agency to show their environmental permit numbers on the sites where they are selling parts in order to reassure potential customers of their legitimacy. The Environment Agency is contacting eBay traders who do not display their environmental credentials, providing guidance and warning them about carrying on with non-permitted breaking activities. Those who are operating illegally and not responding to the Environment Agency will find their trading account suspended or removed from eBay. For those who then continue to trade, the Environment Agency has stated that it will take further steps including making a site visit and reporting them to the Police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
"It is clearly a much more complicated scenario to run legally and the pitfalls of not doing so can be severe. With the policing of internet trading sites now becoming more commonplace and through the process of effectively ‘joining up’ official bodies to ensure that only registered traders can operate the Certification system it is becoming almost impossible to run such a business illegally. Those operating outside the system face detection and closure. They may even face investigation and possible prosecution by the authorities."
John Davies - Solicitor
If you are affected by what is discussed in this article or have any concerns then please see our Regulatory & Compliance section for more information about how our solicitors can help.