| 11.5°C Dublin

Latest on-road agricultural vehicle rules 'to see contractors go to wall'

Farm contractors have expressed grave concerns that new regulations governing the use of agricultural and works vehicles on public roads will seriously hit their incomes.

Details of the Department of Transport and Road Safety Authority proposals are due to be announced this week, but contractors are worried that the new measures will exclude them from non-agricultural work contracts.

It is understood that a speed limit of 40kph will be introduced for tractors on public roads.

The minimum age for tractor drivers is also expected to be increased, while permits are to be introduced for contractors who use farm vehicles that are run rebated fuel for non-agricultural work.

Tom Murphy, director of the Professional Agricultural Contractors (PAC) of Ireland, claimed that the proposed legislation would do serious damage to contractor incomes.

He said the cost of permits, which would allow agricultural contractors to use farm machinery on non-agricultural jobs, such as construction, was likely to be prohibitive.

"Contractors will go to the wall because of this, because there are very few contractors who survive exclusively on farm work," Mr Murphy claimed.

He said the new speed limit would effectively ban tractors from motorways, while the cost of the new permits could exclude many contractors from tendering for work with local councils.

Mr Murphy pointed out that the proposals, as they are currently framed, deemed the transport of harvested willow as haulage rather than an element of the contractor's core business. Consequently, contractors would need permits to run their vehicles on rebated fuel if they got involved in this activity.

The PAC will hold meetings this week to advise contractors on the new measures -- on Thursday at the Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co Tipperary, Friday at the Headfort Arms in Kells, Co Meath, and next Monday at the Park Hotel, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Meetings start at 8pm.

Declan O'Brien

Indo Farming