Abandoned Vehicles

Information about what to do when you find a motor vehicle abandoned on the highway or in a public place.

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Abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The fine can be unlimited, or a prison sentence may be imposed.

The Council has a duty under the Act to dispose of any vehicle that appears to have been abandoned on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway. However, this duty does not cover vehicles abandoned on private land.

We consider a vehicle abandoned if some or all the following apply:
  • it has been parked for a significant amount of time and it is not being used by anyone
  • it is significantly damaged, run down or unroadworthy - for example, has flat tyres, missing wheels, or broken windows
  • there are weeds or litter surrounding it, or mould, moss, and waste inside
  • its number plate is missing
  • its tax has expired
  • it is burned out
If the vehicle holds tax, MOT, is not stolen and is parked in an area with no restriction or
yellow lines, it is legally parked and will remain where it is.
Do not report vehicles as abandoned or illegally parked if they have simply been parked somewhere where they may not normally park or expected to park. If a parking space is available on a public road, even if it is directly outside your house, anyone is allowed to park in it.

If after reading the information you wish to report an abandoned vehicle, please click here.
If the vehicle is causing an obstruction on the highway or pavement, please report it to the Police. The telephone number is 101.
The duty under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 to dispose of abandoned vehicles does not cover vehicles on land occupied by any other person.

The Council will only remove abandoned vehicles from private land that is in the open air if asked to do so by the legal occupier of the land.

We do not have to remove an abandoned vehicle from land in the open air if the cost of moving it to the nearest highway is high. When removing a vehicle from land in the open air we cannot charge the occupier of the land or the landowner.

If you think a vehicle has been abandoned on private land, you should inform the land manager, not the Council.
The Council has no powers to remove a vehicle for having no MOT, no tax, or no insurance.

To report an unroadworthy vehicle or a vehicle with no MOT.

To report an untaxed vehicle.

To report someone for driving with no insurance, click here to contact the police .

If a vehicle has been declared as off the road (SORN) and is left on a public road contact the DVLA.
Do not approach a burning or burnt-out vehicle. Even after they are burnt out, they are still a hazard to the public; the fire will have produced toxic products of combustion.

Contact the fire and rescue service on 999 if a vehicle is on fire. Contact the police on 101 if the vehicle has been burnt and the fire is out.
Scrapping your vehicle must be done through a properly regulated treatment facility. The Environment Agency maintains an authorised treatment facilities register.

Authorised treatment facilities:
  • are required to keep a record of your details for 3 years
  • issue a genuine Certificate of Destruction, and
  • will depollute and recycle your vehicle correctly and legally
The DVLA must be informed that you are no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle.

If it is a premature end of life vehicle (for example, because of being in a road traffic collision), your insurance company will deal with its removal and disposal.