The Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland (PAC Ireland) has welcomed the removal of the 25km from base restriction under a proposed new Statutory Instrument (SI) on road-worthiness testing for ‘fast’ tractors.

This morning, PAC Ireland – along with other stakeholders – met for over an hour with Department of Transport officials to follow up on the department’s commitment to consult again with concerned groups before bringing in a new SI to replace ‘SI 413/2017’ – which was revoked last year.

However, the meeting ran into difficultly over the interpretation the department’s legal team placed on the term “agricultural contractor”, PAC Ireland claimed.

It is understood that the interpretation implied that an agricultural contractor was under contract to the farmer; and therefore did not consider them to be part of the agricultural sector.

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“This would mean that agricultural contractors using a tractor of the T5 category (‘fast’ tractor) on the public highway would require an NCT,” said Tom Murphy of PAC Ireland.

It was explained to officials that two previous directives – relating to the requirement of tachographs in tractors and the carriage of nitrates – were amended to take into account the role of agricultural contractors.

These amendments are a clear indication the EU recognises that agricultural contractors are an integral part of the agricultural sector.

Department officials pointed out that EU Directive 2014/45 places a requirement on the Irish Government to transpose this legislation into Irish law by May 20, 2018, or they will face “severe financial penalties“.

The officials reportedly recognised the concerns of various stakeholders and agreed to go back to their lawyers; it is understood that another consultation meeting on the matter will will occur over the coming week.

Previous SI

Last year, it was announced that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, had signed a SI detailing proposed road-worthiness testing measures for ‘fast’ tractors.

Following a considerable backlash from the farming community, the department agreed to roll-back on the measures. Farm organisations were angry that they had not been involved in drawing up the parameters in the original SI.

Farm organisations are calling for any tractor being used for agricultural purposes to be exempt from testing.

The definition of “commercial haulage” – plus the 25km limit on ‘fast’ tractors involved in commercial road haulage – were the main causes of concern when stakeholders met to discuss the measures in late 2017.

In terms of the vehicle testing regulations, a ‘fast’ tractor is defined as a wheeled tractor with a maximum design speed exceeding 40kph.