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Backlash expected over tractor weight changes

  • 18 November 2013
  • By Hayley Pink

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is expecting some resistance from agricultural hauliers following a government proposal to allow farmers to carry larger loads on roads and travel at faster speeds.

Two separate consultations were launched last week (7 November) by the Department for Transport: one aims to increase the weight limit of agricultural trailers to 21 tonnes and tractor/trailer combinations to 31 tonnes (currently 18.29 tonnes and 24.39 tonnes respectively); the second is looking to allow conventional tractors to travel at 25mph (currently 20mph for the majority of UK tractors) – a speed used by farmers in many other EU countries.

However, the RHA believes there is likely to be concern from agricultural haulage members as farmers aren’t obliged to comply with the many legal requirements facing operators wanting to run trucks on roads, such as obtaining
an O-licence.

Ray Engley, head of the RHA’s national agricultural, foods and tipping group, said: “Operators have to jump through hoops to comply with safety regulations, legal requirements and prove their financial standing, so unless farmers are asked to do likewise, I imagine there will be some resistance from our agricultural haulage members. We will be responding to the consultation and will encourage our members to do so on an individual basis.”

Former bulk haulage specialist David James told Commercialmotor.com he believed allowing farmers to carry larger loads will “push country-based legitimate hauliers to the brink” through unfair competition, as well as cause safety issues on country roads. “If you increase weights, you increase stopping distances. This is already a questionable area on agricultural tyres at huge weights,” he said.

The government is inviting operators to have their say on the two consultations, asking whether the proposals will lead to a shift from other modes of haulage into agricultural haulage, what the effect on small firms will be, and for feedback on enforcement practices for farm vehicles.

The consultations run until 30 January 2014. Click here to take part, go to bit.ly/19GSWxD

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