HYNDBURN MP Graham Jones has welcomed the passing of a new law cracking down on illegal scrap metal dealing.

He said the legislation, promoted by Tory backbencher Richard Ottoway, further tightening the regulation of the trade was a major advance.

The final Parliamentary approval of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill this week follows government action in December to tackle the issue with bigger fines for rogue traders and stronger police rights of entry to scrapyards.

Mr Jones has long campaigned for tough action on a crime that has plagued East Lancashire.

In 2011-2102 there were 2,400 metal thefts across the region, including gas pipes and window frames in Burnley, power line cables in the Ribble Valley and lead from church roofs.

Mr Jones said: “This is good news. It is something I have campaigned on for a long time.

“With the measures brought in last year, we now have the laws to tackle this crime.

“The government accepted most of what we wanted, especially that scrap metal traders vehicles should carry a visible licence plate similar to a taxi.”

Mr Ottoway said: “This marks a significant victory for communities throughout the country. For too long they have provided rich feeding grounds for opportunistic thieves who know they can get rid of stolen metals at rogue or negligent scrap yards.

“Metal theft is no petty crime. It hits at the heart of our daily lives – grinding trains to a halt, cutting off power supplies to hospitals and other lifelines, stripping roofs off churches and schools at huge public expense.”