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Euro MP demands change to draft EU regulations on farm quadbikes

November 4, 2011 12:52 PM

Quad Bike

Liz Lynne fears over-complex rules on quadbikes could cost local farmers a packet

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne is backing calls to change proposed European legislation on motorbikes and quads that could have a serious knock-on effect on farmers.

The EU Commission has put forward proposals intended to improve safety, increase market competition and to reduce the complexity of existing rules for motorbikes and quads.

The draft rules fail to make a distinction between All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) used on roads and small quadbikes designed for farm use to help round up stock or travel over muddy ground.

Under the plan, manufacturers would be obliged to bring all new quadbikes up to full road safety specifications. All would have to fit a rear differential, have a shorter wheel base, limited engine power, expensive noise and emission controls and complex electronic systems designed for use in road traffic.

Manufacturers have warned that this will drive up the cost of insurance and maintenance, increase import taxes and force farmers to license them. The NFU estimate that these technical measures could increase the cost price of farm quads by 40 to 60%.

West Midlands Region MEP Liz Lynne said: "Quad bikes are nowadays a vital tool for the farming, forestry and construction industry, especially in hillier areas.

"Local farmers use them every day to inspect stock, distribute animal feed and drive cattle and sheep from one field to another. Of course we need proper safety regulations, but it is vital that rules are properly targeted to different types of vehicle.

"If this proposal becomes law many farmers and foresters will face a huge rise in the cost of the bike and the cost of insurance, maintenance and taxes will also all go up.

"Farmers are also worried that road-spec quadbikes will be higher off the ground and less stable on steep hillsides.

"The NFU has pointed out that if fitted with a rear differential instead of a fixed back axle, quads are likely to lose traction on bumpy ground.

"Unfortunately, the European Commission has so far failed to see the distinction between quads used by farmers and All Terrain Vehicles which are used as road recreational 4x4 vehicles.

"I support an amendment tabled by my Lib Dem colleague George Lyon MEP that will recognize this crucial difference. We should allow manufacturers to continue making simple quad bikes that are specifically designed for the farming and forestry industry."