Scotland: weights and speed limits for ag tractors and trailers

Following analysis of the responses received to the public consultations and the recommendations from the Farming Task Force, the Scottish Government has made an announcement on its intention to increase the weight and speed limits of agricultural tractors and trailers from spring 2015.

These regulations are being updated to better reflect the capabilities of modern machinery, improve the efficiency of the farming sector and help to boost the economy. The regulations governing tractors and trailers are outdated and the limits were set in the 1980s and do not reflect the significant advances in technology that have been made in this sector. As well as having improved braking systems today’s tractors are heavier.

Initial changes to weights and speed limits will be introduced by March 2015 through amendments to the Road Vehicles Construction & Use Regulations.

An increase the maximum combination weight limit for tractors and trailers from 24.39t to 31t. This will allow farmers to have more flexibility in sizing their combinations, allow larger tractors to haul the same maximum loads that smaller ones do already and will offer some farmers a modest increase in the amount of produce they can carry in each journey. The maximum laden weight of trailers will remain unchanged (at 18.29t) and the maximum axle weights for tractors and trailers will not change.

An effective speed limit of 25mph will be applied for conventional tractors. Modern tractors are designed to safely travel at speeds of up to, or over 25mph, but current regulations restrict their speed to 20mph, lower than many other EU countries. We are therefore unnecessarily restricting our farmers, adding time and cost on to their operations. Those tractors allowed to exceed 25mph will continue to be subject to tighter design and regulatory requirements.

Phase 2 is planned for introduction before harvest 2016 and it includes the consideration of further increases in weights and speeds, including maximum laden trailer weight limits and a roadworthiness test for some agricultural tractors and trailers. NFU Scotland made representations on behalf of members during the initial consultation, and will also do so for any subsequent consultations.

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