Stock should be allowed on rural roads, say farmers

Some farmers move sheep several times a week, and they want to know if they will need a permit every time. (File photo)
FAIRFAX NZ

Some farmers move sheep several times a week, and they want to know if they will need a permit every time. (File photo)

Rural roads are designed to move stock, say farmers in Marlborough threatening to ignore a proposed traffic bylaw.

The proposal would require farmers to get permission, and pay a fee, to move stock along any district road.

Any farmer refusing to get permission could be fined up to $20,000.

Federated Farmers regional policy advisor Kirsty McGregor discusses the traffic bylaw change at a farmers meeting in Blenheim
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Federated Farmers regional policy advisor Kirsty McGregor discusses the traffic bylaw change at a farmers meeting in Blenheim

The Marlborough District Council traffic bylaw is intended to simplify regulations around stock movements on rural roads but farmers believe it will have the opposite effect.

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Marlborough Federated Farmers president Sharon Parkes said under the proposal the council would have the authority to either grant or deny farmers permission to move stock.

The proposal would create an inappropriate blanket rule for all farmers, says Marlborough Federated Farmers president ...
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

The proposal would create an inappropriate blanket rule for all farmers, says Marlborough Federated Farmers president Sharon Parkes.

Council permission would also be required for a farmer to build a stock race, underpass or crossing, she said. 

The proposal, about to be considered by council staff under a general review of bylaws, would create an inappropriate blanket rule for all farmers, Parkes told a packed meeting of farmers on Monday.

Federated Farmers has urged members to make submissions on the bylaw review before the April 3 deadline.

An overwhelming majority at the meeting labelled the bylaw "ridiculous" and "unworkable".

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Several farmers said they would ignore the regulation change, and risk a $20,000 fine, if it became law.

Some questioned the necessity of the bylaw and asked for "commonsense" to prevail.

"Council is seeking to simplify the regulations but the draft bylaw does not simplify anything," Parkes said.

The proposal was unclear whether the same set of regulations applied, for example, to both sealed and unsealed roads, or between beef or dairy cattle, Parkes said.

It was also unclear if farmers would need a single permit for a set number of years, or individual permits every time stock was moved.

A farmer at the meeting said he sometimes moved sheep several times a week. He asked if he would need a permit for every time he moved stock.

Another said it was impossible to pinpoint the exact time stock would be moved.

"What happens during a flood, do we have to apply for a permit then?" he said.

Another said the road code already set out guidelines for motorists driving through animal herds.

Marlborough District councillor Geoff Evans said the review was being made for road safety reasons.

There had been four traffic incidents in the past year involving motorists and stock on roads. Breaches would be monitored as complaints came in, he said.

Only dairy farmers moving stock along a public road were required to fill out a traffic management plan.

The traffic bylaw draft sought to bring all farmers under the same regulations, Parkes said.

Key changes to the existing regulations included farmers requiring written permission from council and a fee to make an application, and council staff having the right to decide whether it would grant, or refuse, permission. 

Parkes said it was not clear in the bylaw what information the council required, or how it would set terms and conditions. 

Under current regulations, stock could be driven down a road during the day, or in an emergency.

Public consultation on the bylaw review would start in April with submission hearings in May.

 - The Marlborough Express

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