Roy Beggs MLA launches Private Member’s Bill to Deter Metal Theft

assessing security at Ballyvallagh Electricity Sub Station

Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim Roy Beggs has launched a public consultation exercise on a Private Member’s Bill he is piloting through Stormont.  A consultation document published on his website aims to gather feedback on the idea of new legislation to regulate scrap metal dealers, in order to help combat the ongoing problem of metal theft.

Roy Beggs MLA stated; “The issue of metal theft has been a live issue for some time now in my East Antrim constituency and across Northern Ireland.    In the absence legislation from the relevant government departments [the Department of Justice or the Department of the Environment], to ensure an audit trail of traded scrap metal, I have taken it upon myself to introduce my own Private Member’s Bill at Stormont.”

“It is startling fact that in the first quarter of 2013, the PSNI report that 299 reported burglary, robbery and theft offences include property items listed as metal.  There have been well documented cases of lead being taken from the roofs of schools and churches.  In addition in my local area there have been 2 major incidents of copper thefts at the Ballyvallagh Electricity substation.  The power supply to much of the Larne district could have been knocked out by the thieves on those occasions.  Elsewhere I am aware of underground street lighting powers cables being stolen from my neighbouring village of Glenoe.   Isolated rural communities have also been left without power as thieves have attempted to steal overhead power lines.  Manhole covers have even been stolen exposing the public to dangers.

All of this is adding extra replacement and security costs for individuals, organisations and utility companies which of course are eventually passed on to the public or private businesses.  It is apparent that the theft of metal for sale as scrap is a lucrative business and action must be taken in order to help combat this.

Roy said;

“It is my intention to propose a Bill to regulate scrap metal dealers in Northern Ireland.   There has been significant cost to private individuals, churches, schools, public and private bodies as a result of stolen metal. At present there is no legislative requirement for those dealing in scrap metal to provide an audit trail and prevent stolen property from being traded. The proposed Scrap Metal Dealers Bill (NI) is an attempt to rectify this.

As part of the legislative process I am required to consult with interested parties. I would be grateful if the public or indeed organisation who have suffered from metal thief could help by completing the consultation online: or alternatively by completing the paper response to the consultation document which is available on my website .”

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