Committee of Transport and Tourism
Farmer and West Midlands Euro MP Phil Bennion has welcomed a vote at the European Parliament to protect the use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) on farms and in forests.
During a plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs voted for updated safety rules to distinguish between agricultural or forestry ATVs and recreational quad-bikes and other vehicles which might be driven on public roads.
The move has allayed fears that manufacturers could be forced to build farm ATVs to an expensive on-road specification with a host of extra equipment such as ABS brakes, leading to a big rise in costs and severely limiting their effectiveness for farmers or foresters.
Commenting after the vote, County MEP Phil Bennion, who farms near Tamworth, said:
"This vote is the culmination of a long campaign involving the UK government, NFU and other industry leaders to persuade Commission officials that farm ATVs are not for fun and games but a vital tool for many farmers to move stock or access difficult terrain for maintenance. Foresters were in the same situation.
"As a farmer, I know how damaging the original proposals could have been. They would have led to much higher servicing, tax and insurance costs and a lot of extra unnecessary engineering. There were even fears that some manufacturers would just abandon the market altogether.
"The original proposals were a result of officials not realising the vital role of small low-speed, go anywhere ATVs nowadays in farming and forestry.
'There is a need to protect the safety of leisure quadbikers who are trying to race on uneven ground, or larger vehicles intended for occasional road use, but rules should not affect ordinary farm ATVs with a lower power output.
"I and my Lib Dem colleagues will continue to keep a watchful eye on any future proposals in any committee that might have unintended consequences for farmers and rural businesses."