In a move heralded as ‘common sense’ by the NFU, the EU Commission has put forward a proposal to replace around 50 directives with one core regulation covering the type approval of tractors, trailers and their appliances.

The regulation, which could come into force in 2014, aims to simplify, improve and standardise safety rules for the construction of agricultural vehicles and their towed equipment. It would also include provisions for higher braking standards and ABS along with improving the compatibility between tractor and trailer.

The NFU is now urging government to look at the current UK rules governing construction and use for tractors and trailers, which have not been thoroughly reviewed for the past 24 years. British farmers and growers are being put at a disadvantage against their European competitors as UK rules have fallen behind new technologies and equipment available on the market.

NFU transport adviser Peter Garbutt said: “Modern agricultural vehicles are constructed for the European market and so it makes sense to have common safety standards. Extending European-type approval for trailers and trailed equipment should give buyers more confidence in the construction standards and safety of the equipment they purchase.

“However, it is increasingly apparent that as construction standards are harmonised across the EU our government must look to take an interest in modernising the regulations surrounding usage so that British farmers and growers are not needlessly restricted. Other member states are able to take full advantage of the efficiencies made possible by safe, type approved modern equipment, and the Department of Transport must review our out-dated legislation governing use of this equipment on the road as a matter of urgency if these new proposals are to have any meaningful impact here.

“The standards that new equipment will have to meet to be type-approved will be of great interest to our farmer and grower members and as with all new regulation the devil will be in the detail. The NFU will continue to monitor this issue closely and I look forward to seeing further details of this proposal.”