NEW RULES: Moving cane harvesters will now require a police escort, a move that has growers upset.
NEW RULES: Moving cane harvesters will now require a police escort, a move that has growers upset. Apn Photo Library

New road rules will hit farmers hard

IF THERE'S one thing agriculture doesn't need, it's another speed bump.

But changes to rules for moving over-width and over-height machinery are set to have farmers calling for a police escort every time they need to shift a harvester. Harvesters are 5.3m high and anything more than five metres would require the escort.

A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said moving harvesters would require a pilot vehicle, which can be an ordinary car with an orange light, and either one or two police cars, depending on the distance.

Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg lashed out against the changes, calling them an "impractical and onerous" burden on the sugar industry.

"Distances travelled are relatively short, often less than 10km, and cane growers work in an environment where agronomic best practice is dictated by weather conditions, thus the need to travel and cross public roads is unpredictable and often needs to be carried out at short notice," Mr Borg said.

He called for an immediate review of the current Queensland Transport and Main Roads conditions.

Renant Laser Levelling owner Tony Crowley has battled against reforms to wide load vehicles since February last year, when it was decided he would need a police escort and a drop deck truck to shift his levelling equipment.

"These rules will break us, we just don't have the resources," he said.

"Even just to shift machinery 500-600m down the road we have to organise a pilot vehicle and police escort.

"Now with it happening to harvesters, it's just going to slow everything down."



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