The Government has announced its intention to “cut outdated regulation” to allow higher tractor speeds and heavier tractor and trailer combinations from spring 2015.
Under the changes, the speed limit for tractors will increase from 20mph to 25mph (40km/h), and the maximum combination weight limit for tractors and trailers will increase from 24.39 tonnes to 31 tonnes. Tractors allowed to exceed 25mph will continue to be subject to tighter design and regulatory requirements.
The increase in combined weight means bigger tractors can pull trailers without sacrificing cargo to meet the top weight limit of both tractor and trailer. The Government says this will result in farmers having to make fewer journeys by road, thereby reducing the risk of collisions.
Claire Perry, transport minster, said: “Britain’s farmers have long suffered under outdated rules which simply have not kept up with today’s technology.
“These changes will mean farmers can carry more produce in each journey – delivering benefits of almost £62m per year.
“Helping our farmers is a crucial part of the Government’s long-term economic plan and updating the rules to better reflect the capabilities of modern machinery will boost the efficiency of the farming sector and the economy.”
A second phase of changes will see a further consideration of increases in weight and speed limits and a roadworthiness test for some agricultural tractors and trailers by summer 2016.
The announcement follows a consultation which ran from November 2013 to January 2014. Existing limits will apply until the first round of changes come into effect in spring 2015.