Hewitt relents on car recycling law

Fears the UK government was planning to introduce a controversial new law on recycling cars next year have been allayed after comments made by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Fears the government was planning to introduce a controversial new law on recycling cars next year have been allayed after surprise comments made by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Hewitt admitted in a CBI conference debate in Birmingham this week that the full financial burden of the European Union directive on industry’s responsibility for recycling cars would not be imposed until 2007 – the same as France and Germany.

Hewitt, under pressure from fellow debate panellists CBI director-general Digby Jones and Conservative trade spokesman, John Whittingdale, was forced into going further than her department’s previous statement.

‘We don’t want to damage the motor manufacturing industry and we want a to ensure a level playing field in regard to this directive,’ she told the audience.

The directive requires carmakers to take back for disposal all new vehicles made by them as of next year. It was feared that manufacturers in the UK might be responsible for all cars on the road from 2002, but they will have five years to prepare for this.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ spokesman Nigel Wonnacott told The Engineer: ‘It reflects a sea change in government approach over the last two weeks.’

Motor industry leaders will be able to take up the issue at the promised Manufacturing Summit, which the government admitted would not now take place this month, but has been postponed until December 5.