UK farming unions help EU see sense on tractor and trailer testing

Thursday, 19 December, 2013

New burdensome EU proposals on tractor and trailer testing look to have been defeated in the European Union yesterday (Wednesday) after intensive lobbying from UK farming unions. The proposals, which formed part of the EU’s wide ranging ‘Roadworthiness Package’, would have introduced new MOT-style testing for some large tractors and all livestock trailers.

The original proposals meant that all ‘O2’ graded trailers such as a normal livestock trailer towed behind a four wheel drive vehicle would have been subject to MOT-style testing. The UK farming unions argued that the proposals were costly, bureaucratic and unworkable with no evidence of any potential increase in road safety. After intense lobbying, and backed by the member state governments in the Council, the MOT style testing of all livestock trailers will now not be needed.

On tractor testing, the aim in the original proposals was to deal with the unfair competition in some European countries between farmers using tractors and trailers for road haulage and the professional road haulage industry. The farm unions argued that this situation does not occur in the UK due to legal restrictions on things like red diesel use and operator licensing, and as such farmers in the UK should not be penalised.

UFU Legislation Policy Committee Chairman Jason Rankin said; “The rejection of these proposals is welcome news to Northern Ireland’s farmers. Obviously tractor and trailer safety is very important but introducing more cost, bureaucracy and inconvenience into an already overburdened system is in no one’s interest.

“Through a lobbying effort from the UK farming unions office in Brussels we have been able to bring a stop to this unwanted and unnecessary legislation which was likely to be of little or no benefit to road safety. ‘T5’ standard large tractors while still included in the scope of the final agreement will only include those that travel ‘mainly on public roads’ – with sensible proper exemptions for farmers using tractors in agriculture and horticulture. The final agreement on these proposals is likely to come early in 2014 when the European Parliament and member state ministers are expected to formally adopt the package.”