Abandoned vehicles



Abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Council has a duty to dispose of any vehicle that appears to have been abandoned on any land in the open air or on any land forming part of a highway. 

We consider a vehicle abandoned if some or all of the following apply:

  • it has been parked for a significant amount of time and it appears that 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

  • it’s burned out

You can check if a vehicle is taxed and has a MOT (if required) on the Government pages.

If the vehicle holds tax, MOT, is not stolen and is parked in an area with no restrictions or yellow lines, it is legally parked and will remain where it is.   


Reporting an abandoned vehicle

The Council works in partnership with Northumbria Police to remove abandoned vehicles through the AVAIL (Abandoned Vehicle Action Information Liaison) scheme.

To report an abandoned vehicle, please telephone 0191 278 7878 and ask for 'Envirocall'. Please be prepared to provide details of:

  • the exact location of the vehicle

  • its make, model, colour and registration number

  • the condition of the vehicle, and

  • how long the vehicle has been parked and why you believe it is abandoned

If the vehicle poses a danger and is found to be:

  • posing a risk to nearby property

  • is a danger to health and safety, or

  • is at imminent risk of vandalism/arson

it will be removed by Northumbria Police.

In other cases AVAIL will carry out relevant enquiries before arranging any necessary removal by the police's contractor.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 authorises the police to remove vehicles that are illegally, dangerously or obstructively parked or abandoned or broken down, whether or not they have been stolen.

The cost of removal will be the responsibility of the vehicle's owner, their insurance company or the Council.

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’s directly outside your house, anyone is allowed to park in it.

If a vehicle has been declared as off the road (SORN) and is left on a public road contact the DVLA.


Vehicles on private land

The police (AVAIL) will not deal with abandoned vehicles on private land.

The Council will only remove abandoned vehicles from private land that is in the open air if asked to do so by the landowner. 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 landowner not the Council.


Vehicles that are claimed

If the owner of the vehicle is found, they will have 7 days’ notice to collect the vehicle before it can be disposed of. We must return a vehicle to its owner if they claim it and they pay the costs of removal and storage. These costs are set out in the Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles (Prescribed Sums and Charges) Regulations 2008.


What to do with a vehicle which has reached the end of its life

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

  • 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.


Reporting other vehicle issues

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, contact the police.

Certain nuisance vehicles can be dealt with by the Council. Please see our pages on selling or repairing vehicles in the street.

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