Tractors used for farming will not be included under new tractor testing regulations brought in by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, the Irish Farmers Journal can confirm.

New testing regulations were signed by Minister Ross on Monday after months of discussions on the regime.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that under the regulations the definition of a tractor does not include a tractor used for the purposes of agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery activity which is used mainly on the land where such activity takes place.

This includes agricultural roads, forestry roads or agricultural fields.

An EU directive (2014/45/EU) requires that roadworthiness testing for certain tractors which can exceed 40km/h - otherwise known as fast tractors – is carried out.

Taking concerns of farm organisations on board and following legal advice, Minister Ross has now signed off on new legislation.

The principal amendments are set out as follows and will come into effect on 20 May 2018:

  • The introduction of compulsory roadworthiness testing for tractors with a maximum design speed exceeding 40km/h which are being used for non-agricultural activities. These vehicles will be required to be tested when four years old and every second year thereafter.
  • They will be subject to the same test fees already applicable to heavy goods vehicles (HGV) based on their design gross vehicle weight (DGVW).
  • The establishment of an exemption for commercial vehicles used exclusively on small islands.
  • Commercial vehicles between 30 and 40 years of age (that are used solely for non-commercial purposes) will be required to undergo compulsory roadworthiness testing every second year (biennially), instead of annually. Those vehicles registered prior to 1980 will be exempt from testing.
  • Pragmatic decision

    IFA national environment chair Thomas Cooney has welcomed the pragmatic decision by Minister Ross to limit the requirement for compulsory roadworthiness testing to tractors doing non-agricultural work and with a maximum design speed exceeding 40km/h.

    “After months of protracted negotiations, it is good to see the IFA has convinced Minister Ross and his officials to accept that farmers are already heavily regulated when it comes to transporting farm produce.

    “For example, farmers are currently legally required under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure that brakes, handbrake, mirrors, lights, indicators, wipers and hitches are all in working order.

    “We understand and support safety. However, we oppose excessive and wasteful duplication, whether that’s in transport or other inspections.

    “Minister Ross must now immediately publish the clear definitions and regulations which give effect to this decision. There can be no room for confusion,” he said.

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