IFA President Eddie Downey called on the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, to prioritise the introduction of changes to existing load height regulations to remove additional and excessive costs on the agri-sector.
Speaking after a meeting with Mr Varadkar, Mr Downey said: “The minister recognises these costs do exist, and the extra haulage involved on public roads arising from the new load clearance heights, especially for soft loads such as hay and straw. However, he must now set about addressing the issue to ensure farmers are not saddled with an additional €300 for every load hauled.”
Meath IFA Environment chairman Donal Glennon has welcomed confirmation from Minister Varadkar that the €330m investment programme for regional and local roads for 2014 will not be reduced or diverted. He said: “While weather conditions remain difficult in many parts of the country, there is an urgent need for local authorities to begin road repairs and maintenance following the winter period”.
Minister Varadkar has also agreed to support IFA’s campaign to reduce the closed season when hedge cutting is prohibited, in order to make roads safer for motorists, tourists and pedestrians. Harold Kingston said: “The rationale for including August as part of the closed season no longer exists and this is accepted by many agencies such as the Road Safety Authority and other countries such as the UK. Therefore, the closed season should be shortened by at least one month.
This will allow farmers a realistic opportunity to get this necessary work done when daylight is most suitable and spread the farming workload over the year”. Meanwhile, the IFA deputy president and Countryside spokesman, Tim O’Leary has described Eircom’s current legal challenge to their requirement to provide a universal phone service in Ireland as ‘an unacceptable attempt to abandon rural Ireland’. He said: “The reality is that where such an obligation does not exist, rural Ireland falls victim to commercial opportunism. For example, successive Governments have failed spectacularly to ensure all homeowners receive adequate broadband and other such services.
This is directly impacting on job creation and the development of the rural economy.” Mr O’Leary said a real digital divide exists and if Eircom is allowed to walk away from their obligations, once again rural Ireland will be left further disadvantaged. He criticised comments made by the Chairman of Comreg which indicated that a case may exist for the removal of universal service provision obligation in the long-term. “This obligation is not excessive. The case does not exist for its removal and the Government must insist that Comreg vociferously defend this position in the current legal challenge by Eircom.”