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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January 2005, 15:04 GMT
Q&A: Abandoned cars
ENCAMS abandoned car amnesty poster
Some 190 councils have signed up to ENCAM's amnesty
ENCAMS, the charity behind the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, is sponsoring an abandoned vehicle amnesty.

Some 190 councils will collect abandoned cars free of charge for the next two weeks.

Q: Why do people dump cars?

ENCAMS says some people are unaware councils will remove cars and others do not want to pay for their removal.

The price of scrap metal has also fallen and scrap yards now charge to dispose of vehicles.

In some cases, abandoned vehicles have been stolen and some car owners just cannot be bothered dealing with a vehicle that no longer gets them from A to B.

Q: How much does it cost to get the council to remove a car?

During the next two weeks, the 190 councils operating a car dumping amnesty will collect vehicles for free.

Some provide this service free of charge normally, while other charges vary, with the maximum being 67.

Only 43% of councils that responded to a Keep Britain Tidy survey said they shifted abandoned cars within five days, but all respondents said they would be removed within a month.

Q: What penalties are there for dumping a car?

Deliberately abandoning a car can lead to a fine of up to 2500 and/or three months imprisonment.

The council can also claim back the cost of removing and disposing of the vehicle.

If the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill is passed councils will be able to introduce on-the-spot fixed penalty fines and keep the proceeds.

Q: How are the fines enforced?

Any vehicles that are clearly abandoned become the responsibility of the local authority in which the vehicles are located.

Currently, councils can take individuals to court.

Police also have the power to immediately remove any vehicle left in breach of local traffic regulation orders, or causing an obstruction or is likely to cause a danger.

In London, local authorities are also able to remove such vehicles.

Q: How do councils decide which cars are actually abandoned?

A vehicle is considered abandoned if it is untaxed and appears to have been given up.

Councils must be satisfied that the vehicle has been left with no intention of being removed by the owner within a reasonable period.

The RAC Foundation says investigating and removing nuisance vehicles costs local authorities 6m a year, while vehicle arson costs 230m a year to clean up.

Q: How will the Clean Neighbourhoods Bill affect car abandonment?

If the bill is passed, local authorities will be able to remove cars from private land such as Housing Association property.

If a car has been obviously abandoned, say for example it has been burnt out, they will be able to remove it immediately.

They will not have to put a removal notice on it or wait until the tax disks run out.

Q: How common is car abandonment?

Defra's Waste Management Survey 2002/2003 - released August 2004 - estimated 310,000 vehicles were abandoned in England.

That is an increase of 8% from 2001/02 and a 39% increase from 2000/01.

London was found to have by far the highest numbers of abandoned vehicles reported by Local Authorities.

Some 94,500 vehicles were abandoned in 2002/03, a rate of 29.4 vehicles abandoned per thousand households.

Q: How do I report an abandoned vehicle?

Call your council, or, if you think it may have been stolen, the police.

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