Fine Gael TD for Kildare South Martin Heydon, Chair of Fine Gael’s Internal Agriculture Committee, has today (Tuesday) said that he is very pleased that Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has agreed to his proposal to allow a derogation from vehicle height restrictions for the haulage of hay and straw. In response to a question from Deputy Heydon, Minister Varadkar confirmed today that he has asked his officials to draft regulations to allow for a narrow exemption for the haulage of agricultural fodder from the height limits brought in by the 2008 regulations.

“This is an issue I first raised with Minister Varadkar back in October when the implications of the changes being introduced were highlighted to me by very concerned hauliers and farmers in Co. Kildare.  Following discussions with my Dail colleagues I became aware that this was also an issue in other parts of the Country as well as for farmers in the west who rely on the hay and straw being transported to them.”

“I brought a delegation of hauliers from Co. Kildare to meet Minister Varadkar in November and he took on board the specific concerns they raised with him.  The new restrictions which became active last November were signed into law by Minister Varadkar’s predecessor Minister Noel Dempsey in 2008 and allowed for a five year wash out period.  While it is unfortunate that these concerns were only raised by the agri-sector immediately prior to the expiry of the 5 year period in October last year, I am delighted that the Minister was able to accept my proposal for a specific agricultural fodder derogation.

“The proposed height restriction of 4.65m would in many cases have meant hauliers having to transport one third less bales per load, thereby significantly increasing the overall cost per bale for the hard pressed farmers who are still trying to recover from the fodder crisis last year.

“These regulations were designed to address the issue of higher trailers driving through cities due to the height of the Dublin Port Tunnel, along with the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork and the Tunnel in Limerick.   However loads of hay and straw were not seen as the causes of damage through bridge strikes and so this derogation has been allowed following consultation with Irish Rail.”

“I have since spoken to the Minister who confirmed that he hopes the change can be implemented in the coming weeks. It is important that this derogation is in place as soon as possible. Due to the recent bad weather farmers on the western sea board in particular, will have significant fodder requirements and the transportation of fodder from other parts of the Country will be difficult until this change becomes law.”