The government will cut outdated regulation to allow higher tractor speeds and heavier tractor and trailer combinations from spring 2015. The government has also committed to develop detailed proposals for a roadworthiness test for tractors and trailers. This announcement has been welcomed by South Lakes MP Tim Farron.
Under the changes, the maximum combination weight limit for tractors and trailers will increase from 24.39 tonnes to 31 tonnes and will set a new effective speed limit of 25mph (40km/h), up from 20mph - saving time and money. Tractors allowed to exceed 25mph will continue to be subject to tighter design and regulatory requirements.
The increase in combined weight means bigger tractors can pull trailers without sacrificing cargo to meet the top weight limit of both tractor and trailer. This will maximise the amount of produce transported in each journey.
The government hopes that these changes will also result in farmers having to make fewer journeys on our roads and so reduce the risk of accidents. They also believe there will be a £62 million yearly boost to our rural economy as a result of the tractor weight and speed limits being increased.
The second phase of changes will see a further consideration of increases in weight and speed limits and a roadworthiness test for some agricultural tractors and trailers by summer 2016.
Today's (17 October 2014) announcement follows consultations which ran from November 2013 to January 2014. The responses will be published today along with the impact assessment and government response which covers both speed and weight limits. Existing limits will apply until the first round of changes come into effect in spring 2015.
Tim said: "Farmers have raised this issue with me and I previously asked the Department to look at it. I'm delighted we have had a consultation and now ultimately, have changes in the law. But what I have stressed repeatedly throughout the whole process is that it is important that we get this right and that the government must review this again in due course to make sure the right balance has been struck.
"I hope that this package of proposals will help farmers and keep our roads safe."
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