Rural groups have welcomed a Government decision to lift speed and weight limits on tractors.
The CLA - the organisations which represents more than 6,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in the North - said the moves set to come in next Spring will make British farming more competitive and the roads safer.
Under the changes, the maximum combination weight limit for tractors and trailers will increase from 24.39 tonnes to 31 tonnes and will set a new effective speed limit of 25mph, up from 20mph - saving time and money. Tractors allowed to exceed 25mph will continue to be subject to tighter design and regulatory requirements.
The increase in combined weight means bigger tractors can pull trailers without sacrificing cargo to meet the top weight limit of both tractor and trailer. Minister say, maximising the amount of produce transported in each journey.
CLA’s regional director in the North Dorothy Fairburn said: “Rules around the maximum speeds for agricultural vehicles on the road have not changed for 27 years and are outdated. There have been significant changes in agricultural machinery during this time so keeping the speed limit the same would have been counterproductive for agricultural businesses.
“Raising the speed limit to 25mph will bring the UK’s speed limit into line with the majority of Europe, making British farming businesses more competitive. Not only that, roads will become safer as unnecessary congestion is reduced along with the risk of accidents associated with overtaking.
“We also welcome a second phase of assessing agricultural machinery for use on the road. The Government must provide greater clarity over which category differing agricultural vehicles fit into. Now that technology has overtaken legislative background, many CLA members are unsure how their agricultural vehicles are classed.”
The Government announcement followed a consultation which from November 2013 to January. Existing limits will apply until the first round of changes come into effect in spring 2015.
Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “Britain’s farmers have long suffered under out-dated rules which simply have not kept up with today’s technology. These changes will mean farmers can carry more produce in each journey - delivering benefits of almost £62m per year.
“Helping our farmers is a crucial part of the Government’s long-term economic plan and updating the rules to better reflect the capabilities of modern machinery will boost the efficiency of the farming sector and the economy.”