FTMTA News 3rd November 2017

FTMTA Welcomes Consultation on 50k Tractor Test

The Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) welcome the commitment from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport at the meeting held with stakeholders including the Association this week, to revisit the scope of the testing regime to be introduced for certain T5 tractors (otherwise known as 50k or fast tractors) engaged in commercial road haulage from May 20th, 2018. It is important to note that some form of testing program will still come into force on that date as that is mandated by the relevant EU directive in relation to the overall subject of road worthiness testing for various classes of commercial haulage vehicles. The new directive specifically includes T5 tractors whereas previous regulations on this subject did not.

The major sticking point which has, unsurprisingly, arisen in relation to the introduction of such a test centres around which 50k tractors will be subject to testing. The Statutory Instrument (SI) as signed by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, states that the test is applicable to 50k tractors used on public roads for commercial road haulage at a distance of over 25 km from the address at which the owner resides and at the tractor is registered. The SI exempts 50k tractors that are owned / operated by farmers and contractors for purely agricultural purposes irrespective of the distance from home but there seems to be a lack of clarity around the definition of agricultural work versus commercial haulage and there are also issues around a 25 km distance given the nature of Irish land holdings and farming practices.

It is important that the new test does not encompass genuine farming and agricultural contracting activities which the EU directive seems not to have been intended to include. A lack of clarity and various ambiguities in relation to the road use of agricultural vehicles has caused numerous difficulties for tractor operators over the years and the last thing that is needed is further confusion in this regard.

FTMTA calls on the Department to now move speedily to, in effect, withdraw or negate the already signed SI and to undertake the consultation process as they had previously committed to doing and to which they seemed open at our meeting this week. FTMTA joins with other stakeholder groups in welcoming the speed with which the Department and Minister Ross have moved to deal with the problems raised by the SI as signed when these matters were brought to their attention.

FTMTA believes that it is also necessary that the full implications of the move to commercial vehicle testing for some tractors be clarified in terms of how this will impact on the owners of tractors coming within the scope of the test in relation to issues such as the use of agricultural diesel, driver licensing and road tax etc.

The most important point for now is that no time be lost in resolving the issues as the implementation date of May 20th appears to be fixed.

Be a part of a stronger, professional, farm machinery industry – join the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association – contact FTMTA at 045 409309 or membership@ftmta.ie for details.

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