Are Anglesey’s farmers on the highway to hell?
WORRIED farm leaders have flagged up their concerns over planned weight limits on unclassified roads that could affect traffic to farms and other businesses on Anglesey.
NFU Cymru fears farms on the island may be compromised if heavy lorries, tractors and plant equipment are prevented from accessing them.
Contracts for new dairy units in particular could be threatened if they are forced to accept multiple, smaller milk collections rather than larger tankers.
It follows a move by Anglesey Council to put all future planning applications under the microscope. Planners hope to prevent heavy traffic being generated by “large-scale” developments that disrupt residents and damage the local road network.
After a winter in which roads have taken a bashing, it is believed the authority is keen to improve traffic management to keep a lid on maintenance costs and enhance vehicle flows.
The implications will be discussed by NFU Anglesey members at the next county meeting at Cartio Môn, Bodedern, on Tuesday, June 5, 7.30pm.
Huw Percy, chief engineer at Anglesey Council’s highways department, will outline farming’s use of the road network and what powers the council can exercise to enforce the Highways Act 1980.
NFU Anglesey chairman Elwyn Evans said: “His presentation will be of particular interest to those contemplating expansion plans, who seek planning approval.
“It is also relevant to members who make extensive use of the road network as part of their farming enterprise.
“There will be more scrutiny surrounding all planning applications, with the highways department playing a more active role in the process” NFU Cymru is seeking clarification on the definition of a “large- scale development” amid concerns it could relate to anything from a new dairy parlour to a four-bay barn.
It is understood Anglesey’s new planning regime has already prescribed an 18-tonne weight limit on roads approaching a dairy farm.
Iestyn Pritchard, the union’s county adviser for Anglesey, said: “We are not necessarily opposed to the regime as we understand any new development has the potential to increase traffic. We just want to get a better idea of how it may affect farmers.
“Next month’s meeting is an opportunity for members to articulate the particular requirements of their businesses so that the council better understands their needs.”
In recent decades the size of tractors and lorries has grown significantly, and one concern is that weight limit curbs may exacerbate traffic issues.
Iestyn said: “If, for example, a 41-tonne articulated lorry is deemed too heavy for a new industrial unit, the load may instead have to be split between multiple vehicles,” he said.
“This will then only serve to increase the amount of traffic.”
While a punitive regime could place Anglesey’s farmers at a disadvantage, NFU Cymru is also concerned other councils across Wales may eventually follow suit.
A council spokesperson said the highways department is hoping to open a “constructive dialogue” with farmers.