Tuesday, 6 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
76. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the progress made in regard to his discussions with the motor industry for measures for the safe and effective disposal of end of life vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26698/01]
Mr. Molloy: My Department has been actively engaged with the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, the Irish Motor Vehicle Recyclers Association, the Metal Merchants Association of Ireland and other concerned parties with a view to developing a producer responsibility initiative which would comply with Directive 2000/53/EC on end of life vehicles. SIMI has recently submitted formal proposals to the Department for a producer responsibility initiative to implement the requirements of the directive. I understand SIMI is also discussing its proposals with the IMVRA and the MMAI.
The SIMI proposal is currently being examined to see if it can form the basis of an acceptable initiative. It is hoped that early agreement on an acceptable vehicle recovery scheme can be secured with the support of all stake holders. However, in the absence of agreement, mandatory obligations will be introduced through regulations to give effect to the directive requirements by April 2002.
Mr. Gilmore: Is the Minister of State aware that in every urban area there are burned out old cars, vehicles which have failed the NCT and are being used by joyriders to terrorise people in housing estates, and that there is a significant problem regarding the disposal of used motor vehicles? Does he further accept that the primary responsibility for the disposal of used motor vehicles should rest with the producers and distributors of these vehicles? When will the Minister of State introduce regulations to give effect to the European regulations which will come into force by April 2002? Will he continue to be led  on a merry dance by the motor industry which seems to be engaging in longer discussions with him on this issue than did the IRA with General de Chastelain?
Mr. Molloy: I have indicated that mandatory obligations will be introduced by way of regulation by April 2002 if there is no agreement. The Deputy is correct to express concern about the number of vehicles which have been abandoned. The annual figure for end-of-life vehicles has trebled in the past seven years, from 54,800 in 1993 to an estimated 175,000 in 2000.
It is estimated that about 75% of ELVs within the recovery system are recycled – this mainly involves the recovery of metal. Additional recovery capacity for vehicle fluids, used tyres, laminated glass, plastic components etc. will be required to ensure compliance with the directive's reuse and recycling targets. I am determined to have these measures in place through agreement before April if possible. If not, I will do so by way of mandatory regulation.
Ms Clune: End-of-life vehicles are classed as hazardous waste. Is the Minister of State suggesting that he will have regulations in place by next April to comply with the directive's requirements? Will the directive be in place next April?
Mr. Boylan: There is a fad for changing cars. Will the Minister of State not agree that many old cars are road-worthy? The owners of such cars would be proud to keep them on the road if there was a reduction in tax after, perhaps, seven years, rather than abandoning them on the side of the road.
Mr. Gilmore: Has the Minister of State set a deadline for the completion of discussions with organisations representing the motor industry? If these discussions reach a conclusion, is it his intention, one way or the other, to introduce regulations which would place responsibility on the motor industry for the disposal and management of disused motor vehicles?
Mr. Molloy: Given SIMI's position in the motor industry, it was felt it should have a central role in the implementation of the directive. The society has submitted proposals which were received in the Department on 19 October. We are in discussions with SIMI and other interested bodies, such as the IMVRA, the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the EPA, the NUI, Galway, because of its computer-integrated manufacturing research unit, local authority personnel and sections within my Department. It is intended to have this process in place as early as possible, certainly before April. The directive is aimed at meeting new recovery and recycling targets of 85% reuse and recovery by 2006 and 95% by 2015.
Mr. Boylan: The Minister of State did not reply to my question. Is he aware of the many good quality second-hand cars which are choking up garage forecourts? Is he considering a scheme to encourage people to keep cars for longer periods, such as by reducing road tax after five or seven years? These cars are road-worthy, they are not dangerous.
Mr. Molloy: It is a matter of the owner's personal choice. If a car passes the NCT and is deemed suitable for use on public roads, it is a matter for the owner to choose whether to use the vehicle for that purpose or to abandon it.
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