The Ulster Farmers’ Union says legislation introduced earlier this year on tractor weights and speed limits is welcome, but that many farmers are not fully aware of the changes.
Deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, said the changes reflected the technology behind modern farm machinery and brought Northern Ireland’s legislation in line with other parts of the UK.
“These changes came into effect in April 2016, but were not well publicised. The regulations were last updated in 1980, so the updated speed and weight limits are a win for farmers that should help make farm work a bit easier,” said Mr Ferguson.
Under the new regulations the maximum combination weight limit for tractor and trailers has increased from 24.39 to 31 tonnes, along with a rise in the speed limit for tractors to 40km/h (around 25 mph), up from 20 mph. The maximum laden weight of trailers (18.29 tonnes for a braked trailer) and the maximum axle weights for tractors and trailers remain unchanged.
“The tractor weight change allows farmers to use the appropriate machinery for towing heavy loads. This is safer for everyone involved. The speed limit increase reflects modern machinery, with tractors now designed for safe travel at speeds up to, or over 25 mph. The previous 20 mph limit was lower than the regulation for many other EU countries,” said Mr Ferguson.