The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, has been commended for rolling back on tractor testing measures after a Statutory Instrument (SI) relating to the matter was reportedly annulled this morning.
It is believed that Minister Ross withdrew the regulation stipulating the testing of 'fast' tractors - those with a maximum design speed of in excess of 40kph - by signing a new SI which takes precedent over the previous one.
Originally it was feared that 'fast' tractors involved in commercial haulage that travelled more than 25km from their base would be subject to road-worthiness testing.
However, confusion surrounded the definition of 'commercial haulage' and pressure from farm lobby groups and rural TDs forced the department into a rethink.
The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) John Comer welcomed the minister's move. He said the idea that farm tractors would be subject to any kind of NCT was unworkable and would simply have represented another unnecessary cost to family farms.
Comer also believed that Minister Ross deserved credit for recognising the regulation for the mistake it was and withdrawing it.
Meanwhile, the decision was also welcomed by Galway East TD Sean Canney. Following legal advice the minister decided to revoke the SI for technical reasons, according to Deputy Canney.
The decision was taken on foot of the meeting between department officials and various farming groups to give exemption to fast tractors used for farming, fishery and forestry activity, he added.
Sinn Fein's agriculture spokesperson also believed the move by the minister was a step in the right direction.
Commenting on the matter, he said: “I welcome the minister’s decision to sign a new SI this morning - which I have been told annuls the previous one and takes the need for NCT of tractors off the statute books.
The minister has indicated that he will bring in new regulations for high-powered road-travelling tractors by next May in order to comply with EU directives.
“I would ask that the minister would have a proper consultation with all farm organisations, in order that whatever regulations are introduced will be workable for farmers.”