Surge in number of abandoned cars in south Dublin
Falling value of scrap metal is thought to be behind the increase in deserted vehicles
Cars at an authorised ELV treatment facility on the Naas Road, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The falling value of scrap metal has lead to a major increase in the number of cars being abandoned in south Dublin.
A total of 336 complaints relating to abandoned/burned-out cars have been received by South Dublin County Council so far this year, up from 179 complaints last year and 164 in 2014.
The council said the issue appears to be a nationwide one and solutions are being considered by waste enforcement officials in the Department of the Environment.
Teresa Walsh, the council’s director of environment, told The Irish Times that untaxed and uninsured vehicles are being parked on residential streets, waste ground, car parks and at the roadside across the county and never returned to.
“The scrap value of vehicles has fallen of late due to worldwide market forces and the temptation is all too great to dump them or pass them on to unauthorised breakers or back-street garages,” Ms Walsh said.
“The economics of end-of-life vehicle (ELV) waste management are largely influenced by the price of metals.
“This means that when the scrap metal price is poor – and hence where the net value of an ELV is negative – it is the authorised treatment facility operator who must cover the dismantling cost of any vehicle accepted.”
Peter Kinsella, a director of the Westlink Recovery Service, an authorised ELV treatment facility, said an influx of Chinese steel into the European market has pushed the price of scrap metal down.
This, he said, means there is little financial incentive for recovery truck operators to pick up end-of-life cars and bring them to centres.
“There’s no money in it. Six months ago you could have got €100 or €120 return for a car. Today’s price is floating in at around €30.”
Mr Kinsella said people were also less likely to pay the pick-up fee, usually about €30, to have their old car brought to a facility and are instead opting to abandon it.
It is an offence, under the Waste Management Acts and the End-of-Life Vehicle regulations, to discard a vehicle instead of depositing it at a treatment facility.
Offenders can be liable to a €4,000 fine or imprisoned for up to 12 months.
The council said each case involving an abandoned, or apparently abandoned, vehicle is dealt with individually, often in conjunction with An Garda Síochána.
A spokesman at the Department of the Environment said ELVs are accepted free of charge at authorised treatment facilities and car owners do not have to pay to get their vehicle scrapped.
In accordance with the “polluter pays principle”, vehicle manufacturers and importers are legally required to establish national collection systems, consisting of the treatment facilities, for the recovery of ELVs that they have placed on the market in Ireland.
When a vehicle is deposited at an authorised facility, its owner will receive a certificate of destruction.