The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland is confident the Department of Transport’s consultation process will deliver a practical and workable sensible definition of tractor roadworthiness, writes Joe Dermody
FCI says it welcomes the opportunity to engage with the department and with the Road Safety Authority on the drafting of any national regulations on tractor testing.
Transport Minister Shane Ross’s decision to reverse his earlier action of signing a statutory instrument on tractor tests without consultation has also been welcomed by the IFA, ICMSA, ICSA and other farmer groups.
FCI’s national chairman, Richard White, said: “We have been told for months that we, along with others, would be consulted in advance of any legislation. This has not happened and the RSA and the Department of Transport have brought in legislation by stealth.
“We are now seeking that this [statutory instrument] be rescinded. We’re confident with proper consultations we can work together to formulate a sensible definition of the use of contractor-operated agricultural tractors for agricultural activities on Irish roads.”
FCI is confident tractors with a maximum design speed exceeding 40km/h will be exempt from testing. FCI says such an exclusion would prioritise safety in farmers’ transport choices.
The FCI says its proposal would exclude testing on tractors used specifically in the transport of agricultural produce, crops, forage and biomass crops such as hay, silage and straw bales and woodchip and biomass materials and other common farm transport uses.
Mr White said: “If the statutory instrument is not amended, it will add significant costs to farmers who will be forced to engage road haulage contractors to move bales from many out-farms in winter.
There is huge concern that this rule will force many smaller, older tractors which are designed for speeds less than 40km/h, into duty with added road safety risks; it will also force farmers to try and bring trucks down roads for which they were not designed.”
IFA president Joe Healy praised Mr Ross for committing to the consultation process with key stakeholders, effectively reversing his decision to sign the relevant statutory instrument into law last month without consultation. “The consultation promised to IFA will now take place in full with all aspects on the table. We’ll now get down to negotiations with the minister and the department to ensure normal farming activities are excluded from tractor testing.
“We expect all tractors used for farming and for bringing farm produce and raw materials to and from the point of sale will not be subject to testing.”
Farmers are required under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure brakes, handbrake, mirrors, lights, indicators, wipers and hitches are all in working order. The IFA says there is no need to duplicate the requirements imposed on farmers.
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