Letter: Scrap metal has a clean side

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The Independent Online
I have no wish to become embroiled in the debate about whether Anthony Gormley's 65ft statue of an angel, planned to overshadow the A1 at Gateshead, is a major work of art or just 100 tons of copper and steel better suited to recycling.

However, the report by Martin Celmins ("Scrap men sharpen saws for giant A1 angel statue", 21 April) unfortunately perpetuates a long-held public misconception that scrap metal is the sole prerogative of petty criminals.

The "local scrap lads" who appear dedicated to stealing the structure the moment it is erected are certainly far removed from Britain's thriving multi-billion-pound metal recycling industry represented by this federation. In 1995 its members transformed more than 10 million tonnes of redundant ferrous metals into furnace feed for steelworks and foundries - and their exports topped 4 million tonnes. Furthermore, recycling of non-ferrous metals is worth an estimated pounds 3bn to the nation every year.

This major industry suffers from the nefarious activities of the people referred to in your report and condemns them outright. I trust that should, as is forecast, the over-priced angelic emblem be attacked with saws at dead of night, Gateshead police will be waiting for these self-confessed villains.

R J Wilcox

British Metals Federation Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire