The DfT has announced that much anticipated further increases to the legally permitted weight of tractor/trailer combinations travelling on road will not go ahead.
The NFU and other stakeholders have long argued that the rules on tractor/trailer weights are outdated, not fit for purpose and do not reflect the capabilities of modern agricultural machinery.
For many years the maximum legally permitted weight of a tractor/trailer combination was pegged at 24.39 tonnes with the maximum weight of a trailer in that combination pegged at 18.29 tonnes.
The NFU lobbied long and hard for the rules to be updated to reflect the changes both in tractor size and capabilities.
We were successful and in 2015 the Government agreed that change was needed and increased the maximum legally permitted weight of a tractor/trailer combination up from 18.29 tonne to 31 tonne. However at this time the weight limit set for a trailer in a combination did not change and remained at 18.29 tonnes.
In reality the effect of the increase to the combination weight limit in 2015 was to take into account the increased size and weight of tractors. It did nothing to recognise the fact that over the years since the regulations were drawn up in 1986 that tractor specifications and the ability to safety pull heavier loads had increased.
However the Government did commit in 2015 to consider further weight increases and especially with regard to the 18.29 tonnes limit imposed on trailers.
We and other stakeholders engaged in positive talks and consultations with the DfT during 2015 and 2016 to secure increased weight limits with tractors running safely and efficiently on Britain’s roads. It is therefore very disappointing that an announcement was made on 3 February that further changes to the regulations will not be made.
We are looking very hard at the reasons behind the decision made by the Dft and ways that change can be made to help Britain’s agricultural industry operate modern machinery in a safe and efficient way.
The DfT update on increased tractor/trailer weight limits can be viewed here.