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Hay carting trial welcomed

FARMING organisations have welcomed a Western Australian Government trial involving less restrictive rules for the transport of hay and straw.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said Main Roads WA would trial a new policy that would allow transport operators with drop-deck trailers to cart larger loads and lessen restrictions on cartage times for 12 months.

Industry groups have been pushing for the change for some time.

The export hay market earns up to $100 million each year, with a further $50 million generated through the sale of pellets for lot feeders and live sheep exports."

"The new limits will allow operators to carry a maximum load size 4.6 metres high and 2.7 metres wide," she said.

"This will enable transporters to carry the large bales of hay loaded three bales high and two bales wide.

"Previously, they were restricted to carrying bales arranged two-high and two-wide to comply with the normal dimension limits of 4.3m high and 2.5m wide, unless overwidth and/or over-height permits were obtained from Main Roads.

"With predictions of up to 700,000 bales being produced in the coming year for both the domestic and export markets, the new policy will deliver major commercial benefits and efficiencies to this sector but we must ensure that safety is not compromised."

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Barry Court said the Hay and Straw Industry Working Group had gone to considerable expense to put its case to the Minister.

"It is a good decision by the Minister to take heed of the strong case that was made by the Hay and Straw Industry Working Group on the technical aspects of carting these products," he said.

"That working group went to the expense of having a consultant prepare a report on the stability of the loads in question and make the case to the Minister and Main Roads.

"The transport cost is a major consideration for the export hay and straw industry and allowing this trial will relieve some of the financial impost of the current restrictions.

"It is important operators comply with the regulations for this trial and show that the industry is responsible and can be self-regulating."

WAFarmer president Colin Nicholl said it was good to see commonsense prevailing and a return to the status quo.

"We understand the legislation was enacted as a road safety initiative but are disappointed it had no relevant industry consultation prior to its introduction as the restrictions increased farmers’ transport costs significantly, which could have greatly affected the economic viability of the industry in the long run," he said.

"We believe the regulations would not have provided the WA public with a quantifiable improvement in road safety and may in fact create a greater hazard through increased truck movements as well as adversely affecting the competitiveness of the industry.

"It is pleasing to see the Government working with industry to solve problems common to both in a commonsense way."

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