Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, in the absence of legislation coming from the Northern Ireland Executive to address significant levels of metal theft, has this week introduced his Scrap Metal Dealers Bill in the Assembly which is designed to increase the traceability of metal received by scrap metal dealers.
The East Antrim MLA said:
“Metal theft has resulted in huge cost and inconvenience to local residents and businesses. For example thefts from Greenisland Primary School and Downshire School cost the previous NEELB over £45,000 in a 9 month period alone. Churches, community halls and businesses in Larne and Carrickfergus have also suffered damage.
“The theft of lead flashing and copper piping in particular costs significant sums of money to replace. Often the damage caused is far more expensive than the value of the metal itself.
“In addition, the public have been put at risk by metal thefts. NIE cable has been stolen, disrupting electricity and affecting street lighting. A major electricity sub-station at Ballyvallagh has been targeted twice which could have resulted in wide spread blackouts in the Larne area. The theft of telecoms cable has prevented communication with emergency services and disruption to businesses. The theft of manhole covers has endangered drivers, pedestrians and children.
“My Scrap Metal Dealers Bill is designed to increase the traceability of those selling scrap metal to dealers. The Private Members Bill has followed the 2013 amendment to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act that was introduced in 1964 in England and Wales. Following this amendment, metal theft has declined by almost one third in England and Wales. At the same time metal theft had continued to rise in Scotland and in 2015 the Scottish Parliament introduced similar amendments.
“Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK that does not have a requirement for a Scrap Metal Dealers Licence. My Private Members Bill is designed to deter those thinking of stealing metal and selling it to a dealer, by requiring traceability of those selling metal to scrap metal dealers. With international criminals already known to be flying in and out to steal metal, it is important the local legislation is up-dated to increase traceability of metal going for recycling.”