RURAL businesses in Lincolnshire have thrown their weight behind a parliamentary bid to stop the sale of stolen metal.
The Country Land and Business Association says soaring prices have seen the theft of metal from farms and rural firms in East Anglia and the East Midlands grow to epidemic proportions over recent months.
Overhead cables, copper and even barbed wire and other fencing have been stripped from villages and rural areas for the value of the scrap.
In a bid to thwart the thieves, Lancashire MP Graham Jones brought his Metal Theft (Protection) Bill before the House of Commons last month. It is due to have its second reading on January 20.
The Bill would replace the current registration scheme with a robust licensing regime, with scrap metal dealers paying a fee to fund regulation and the trade in scrap metals being restricted to cashless payments.
Country Land and Business Association East director Nicola Currie said: “Stolen metal is being traded too easily within the scrap metal industry.
“Hundreds of CLA members have been victims of metal theft, with some losing thousands of pounds repairing and replacing stolen lead and other metals. Thefts from heritage buildings are particularly expensive and time-consuming for owners because the building is made difficult or impossible to insure in the future.
“Banning cash sales would prevent anonymous sales because the metal could always be traced back to the person who sold it to the dealer. This is how France, Belgium and parts of the United States have clamped down on metal theft.
“Out of the scrap metal industry’s £5billion turnover, an estimated £1billion is carried out in cash.”