Cotton Australia to meet RTA and police over big crops


Cotton Australia has hailed its industry’s transport compliance performance during the recent bumper recent harvest. <br /><br /> The representative body is moving to deal with regulatory issues regarding transport due to the expectation of last year’s 4 million bale harvest rising to 5 million bales in 2011/12. It will conduct a meeting in Moree on October 25 between growers and transporters and New South Wales Road Transport Authority, Police Highway Patrol and local councils to help smooth the way.

By Rob McKay | October 6, 2011

Cotton Australia has hailed its industry’s transport compliance performance during the recent bumper recent harvest.

The representative body is moving to deal with regulatory issues regarding transport due to the expectation of last year’s 4 million bale harvest rising to 5 million bales in 2011/12.

It will conduct a meeting in Moree on October 25 between growers and transporters and New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), Police Highway Patrol and local councils to help smooth the way.

"Cotton Australia enjoys a very engaged relationship with those organisations," National Communications Director David Bone says.

"In fact, that’s been a big asset to us, in being able to negotiate directly and having them be interested in what we have to say.

"We’ve been very grateful for that level of collaborative approach and the openness to discuss the issues."

The industry is facing a second consecutive year of record-breaking harvests.

Though this depends on the weather, some more land under seed and, particularly, increased yields will mean bigger average harvests and a resultant increase in transport demand.

This will be felt in southern NSW, with regions south of Dubbo attracting one-third of all cotton plantings for the first time.

"It is absolutely critical that these things be discussed and from a very early stage," Bone says.

Certain issues for cotton transport are shared with wool.

Though aware in a general sense of issues surrounding wool and other bulk-commodity transport, the peak body prefers to focus on its sector, Bone adds.

Cotton Australia recently released the findings of its Cotton Module & Harvest Machinery Transport Survey, which outlined the experience of 46 mostly NSW respondents in moving cotton modules, bales, heavy vehicles and machinery on public roads during the 2010/11 harvest.

Of those, 73 percent reported no warnings or infringement notices relating to loads and 87.5 percent saw no action over plant and machinery on the road.

Amongst those picked up by NSW road transport authorities, the ones to make double figures were 17 percent for over-dimension trailers, 10 percent for over-width loads and 10 percent for inadequately restrained loads.

Most action by enforcement officers involved warnings or special permit checks.

By far the greatest number of respondents, 39, were growers, though 13 of them also supply transport or harvest services to other growers.

Five were pure transport contractors.

"It should be generally acknowledged that given a record cotton harvest, widespread increase in the use of round bale cotton pickers and the significant number of both round and conventional modules transported from farms to gins on various trailer types, the performance of the cotton industry in managing relevant compliance matters; not the least road transport safety has been very good, as evidenced by only a small number of infringements across cotton regions,"
Cotton Australia
says.

In a statement that will resonate in the road freight industry, Cotton Australia says the survey underlined the need for it to continue focusing on certain issues in negotiations with road authorities.

These included:

  • Lobbying for permanent changes to maximum heavy-vehicle load dimensions
  • Ability to operate over-sized road trains on NSW roads
  • Clear guidelines for vehicle and trailer registration, inspection and specification requirements
  • Maintaining industry best practice guidelines to compliance for road transport regulations
  • Greater tolerances for oversized loads
  • A load restraint system for round modules without mandatory use of nets
  • Over-dimension concessions (permits) for floating of JD 7760 pickers
  • Easier access for permits for movement of machinery and over-dimension loads over public holiday periods
  • Over-dimension concessions (permits) for walking of JD 7760 pickers.

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