Farmer groups are calling on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to reverse a new regulation enforcing a maximum load height restriction of 4.65 metres.
IFA national environment and rural affairs chairman Harold Kingston has described the new 4.65m regulation as excessive. He said it will add millions of euro to the annual cost of transporting fodder and other agri-related produce.
Mr Kingston said: “The new height restriction will add an enormous additional and unnecessary cost on the sector, which may be as high as €10m each year. It can be avoided if Minister Varadkar applies a similar height limit of 5.03m, as exists in the UK and other member states.”
He said the proposed new load height restriction could add an extra €300 to €400 to every load of fodder transported in the country, resulting in increased numbers of loads of farm produce being transported on public roads.
“This will particularly hit farmers in the West of Ireland, who are very dependent on hay and straw from tillage farmers in the east of the country every year, and must be addressed immediately,” said Mr Kingston.
Meanwhile, ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said that, under these new restrictions, the vast majority of lorries transporting fodder will have their loads significantly cut; only two rows of 4x4 round bales will be legal on lorries, while large square bales, typically three feet high, will only be legal when loaded three high on most trailers.
Mr Gilmartin added: “These restrictions, which will come into force from today, will reduce a typical load of straw by one third. Haulage costs will remain constant, so the cost of bales will inevitably rise. Early indications suggest that this could be between €5 and €10 per bale.
“This change will have dire implications for farmers buying fodder this winter, particularly those dependent on straw being transported long distance from the east and south of the country. It is a restriction that is unworkable in practice and must be reversed as soon as possible.”
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