The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) wants government action to curb metal theft

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is calling on the government to ban cash sales of scrap metal in an attempt to check the rise of metal theft from rural businesses and communities.

The association, whose members own and manage more than 250 different types of rural business, hopes the government will legislate to take cash out of scrap dealing.

CLA president Harry Cotterell 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.”

Cotterell said around £1bn of the scrap metal industry’s £5bn turnover is carried out in cash.

He added: “There seems to be plenty of local stealing-to-order with little disincentive to the thieves as the police response is usually non-existent. Something must be done to curb the crime and take the cash out of scrap.”

The CLA has backed the Metal Theft (Protection) Bill proposed by Graham Jones MP and welcomed the government’s plan to establish a £5m national taskforce to tackle metal theft.