Agricultural tractors "likely" to require an O-licence
Agricultural tractors that carry out commercial haulage will be subject to roadworthiness testing requirements from next year - and are likely to fall under the O-licensing regime.
From 20 May 2018, operators of agricultural tractors capable of travelling more than 40km/h (approximately 25mph), used to carry commercial goods, will be required to undergo a roadworthiness test four years after their registration and every two years thereafter.
In its response to a consultation carried out last year, the DfT also noted that operators of such tractors would likely require an O-licence.
However, the RHA said the changes did not go far enough to address the concerns about competition, and said allowing tractors to carry freight will encourage more to be used for haulage.
“Ideally we would like to see these vehicles banned from moving freight on public roads entirely as their design is not equivalent to well-designed lorries for that task,” said policy director Duncan Buchanan.
“We do not believe that the frequency, four years for the first test then every two years, is justified. It looks very odd for heavy vehicles like these to be tested so infrequently when a 50cc moped is required to be tested every year after three years.”
The FTA’s head of policy and compliance information, James Firth, added: “If it looks like a truck or it’s doing the work of a truck, test it like a truck. Members in areas where agriculture is a primary economy have long raised concerns that agricultural tractor units, and specially developed fast tractors, were competing in the haulage market without being burdened by the same safety standards.”
On the subject of O-licensing, Buchanan added: “If it is the case then operators would need to obtain O-licences from when the vehicle was new. They should also have to comply with the same level of rigour as lorries.”
Vernon Hill, director at Kings Lynn-based Vernon Hill Agricultural Services, supported bringing tractors into the O-licensing regime.
He said: “An agricultural contractor friend of mine who runs lorries and tractors thinks the cost of each is very similar, so if farmers think they are saving money by not using a haulier they may be kidding themselves.
“If they are doing commercial haulage, why shouldn’t they be in scope of O-licensing?”
The weight and speed limits for farm tractors and trailers on UK roads increased in 2015. Tractors are not currently subject to mandatory testing.
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