Proposals for new legislation which would have seen MOT-style testing for larger tractors and all livestock trailers introduced across the European Union look to have been defeated following intensive lobbying from the UK’s farming unions.
The original “roadworthiness package” proposals meant that all “O2” graded trailers – including the everyday livestock trailers commonly towed behind four wheel drive vehicles - would have been subject to the MOT-style testing.
Gemma Thomson, legal and technical policy manager with NFU Scotland, said that the UK farming unions had argued that the proposals were costly, bureaucratic and unworkable, with no evidence of any potential improvement 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,” said Thomson.
On the tractor testing front, the aim in the original proposals had been 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 did not occur in the UK due to legal restrictions on things like red diesel use and operator licensing regulations, and as such, farmers in the UK should not be penalised.
“The proper and safe transport of vehicles, equipment, livestock and goods is in the interests of all – but driving unnecessary cost and bureaucracy into the system is in no-one’s interest,” said Thomson.
“Through a lobbying effort from the UK farming unions’ office in Brussels, we look to have successfully tackled the unwelcome level of testing, cost and inconvenience that these proposals may have brought with little or no benefit to road safety.
“It will come as a welcome relief for Scottish livestock keepers that MOT-style testing of livestock trailers will not now be required,” she added.
“In addition, testing of standard large “group T5” tractors – while still included in the scope of the final agreement – will only involve those that travel mainly on public roads. It was understood that this specifically related to those used by highway departments and others, rather than those involved in moving farm produce,” said Thomson. “So that deal comes with sensible, proper exemptions for farmers using tractors in agriculture and horticulture.
“The final agreement is likely to come early in 2014 when the European Parliament and member state ministers are expected to formally adopt the package.”
• The union is currently consulting its members on two separate pieces of UK legislation which could see an increase in the maximum weight of tractor and trailer combinations running on public roads as well as looking at increasing the maximum speed limit beyond the current legal limit of 20mph for the vast majority of tractors which do not have provision for ABS. Although an MOT-type test might be introduced here, it is believed that it would be limited to those who went for the higher speed and weight limits.