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MP cautiously welcomes consultation on raising speed of tractors & weight of trailers

November 19, 2013 10:12 AM

Rural TFSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has cautiously welcomed the Department for Transport's decision to open a consultation to raise the maximum speed for tractors and increase the maximum weight of trailers.

Tim said it provided a clear statement about the Department for Transport's commitment to implement suggestions made under the Farming Regulation Taskforce (MacDonald) Report. The agricultural industry is an essential part of the UK economy. The total Income from Farming was provisionally estimated to be just over £4.7 billion in 2012. Actions to maximise the efficiency of the agricultural industry, such as increasing the speed limit, will ease time delays for tractor drivers and increase productivity for farmers in the UK; in the long-term, productivity growth in agriculture allows farm commodities to be grown and harvested more cheaply. The maximum speed limit for conventional tractors with or without a trailer is currently 40mph, as set out in the Road Traffic Regulation Act. However, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 set out certain technical requirements for tractors and requires those that are driven above 20mph to meet certain requirements, including the fitment of brakes meeting truck standards, including Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

Many tractors do not comply with these requirements so legally can only be used at speeds up to and including 20mph. Some campaigners perceive the current restrictions imposed by these technical requirements (set in 1984) to be outdated and that an alteration to the speed restriction, raising it above 20mph, would maintain or improve road safety. Similarly, the report stated that the restriction does not reflect the capabilities of modern farm machinery, forcing farmers to drive unnecessarily slowly on public roads.

The consultation period began on 7 November 2013 and will run until 30 January 2014. If you would like further copies of this consultation document, it can be found at www.gov.uk/dft or send consultation responses by email to tractorspeedlimit@dft.gsi.gov.uk or post to Vehicle Speed Limits, 3/28, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR.

Tim said: "I welcome this consultation. Farmers have spoken to me about this and I have asked the Department to look at this issue. It is important that we get this right. I hope that farmers and road safety campaigners get involved in the consultation and that we get as much evidence as possible."