Tuesday, 28 February 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
339. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Transport if the difficulties surrounding the roadworthiness of tractors and trailers on hire to local authorities for earthwork activities on small road jobs has been resolved; the method by which same is to be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8227/06]
340. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the decision he has arrived at following a circular letter issued in 2005 to local authorities to the effect that tractors and trailers were not eligible to be taken on contract for roadworks by local authorities; if this requirement has been relaxed in certain cases; the circumstances under which such hire may take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8228/06]
To use a vehicle in a public place, it must comply with a range of standards in respect of its construction, equipment, use, weight and dimensions. These requirements are set out in the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 1996, the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 to 2002 and the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 2003 to 2004. These regulations apply in the interests of public safety and to protect road infrastructure.
Exemptions from certain requirements of the regulations apply in respect of land tractors and trailers. Essentially, these are vehicles that are designed and used primarily for work on the land and are used on a public road only incidental to such work on the land.
For safety reasons a vehicle should only be used for a purpose for which it was designed and intended. As agricultural tractors and trailer are designed primarily for use on the land their use in other capacities is questionable on safety grounds. In March 2005, my Department wrote to local authorities concerning the appropriateness of the use, in a local authority context, of agricultural-type tractors and trailers for the carrying of goods or burden of any description and outlining the necessity for hauliers engaged by local authorities to hold a road freight carrier’s licence if hauling for hire and reward.
The Department’s letter to local authorities recognised that there could be exceptional circumstances where the engagement of the services of an agricultural tractor and trailer by a local authority is acceptable. In response to queries from the professional agricultural contractors, PAC, concerning these situations, my Department wrote to the PAC last month amplifying the circumstances. The circumstances envisaged would be on work that is agricultural in nature such as cutting or maintaining inlets in roadside verges and managing the resultant spoil in an environmentally sustainable manner, hedge cutting etc. It was also indicated to the PAC that where a trailer meeting the definition of an agricultural trailer is used in the circumstances outlined above, it would be deemed to be exempt from the requirements to be licensed and tested.
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