Councils need livestock loading scheme lure

By: Brad Gardner

The initiative could save industry $10.2 million annually but more need to take it up

Councils need livestock loading scheme lure
Most trucking operators support the Livestock Loading Scheme in NSW, but many councils still need convincing.


Greater effort will be put into convincing local governments in New South Wales to join the state’s livestock loading scheme (LLS), with findings that low participation rates from councils are hampering its success.

A review of the scheme, which allows eligible livestock trucks to operate at higher mass limits (HML), has found many councils are reluctant to support it due to concerns heavier trucks will damage the road network.

Councils are crucial to the success of the LLS because their approval is needed to allow trucks to run at HML on their roads.

The review says the LLS could reduce annual truck movements by about 7,000 and save producers $10.2 million annually if all eligible trucks moved from general mass limits (GML) to HML.

But only 21 councils are participating in the scheme, while a further 81 have not opted in or out of it.

"Council participation is not at the desired level to achieve the scheme’s objectives," the review of the LLS says.

"A number of councils in the state’s most significant areas for cattle and sheep production have not formally agreed to participate in the LLS.

"Unless the road managers have agreed otherwise, livestock vehicles can only legally operate at GML on regional and local roads."

As such, the NSW government says it is planning a comprehensive communication and awareness campaign to stoke interest in the scheme and resolve issues preventing councils from permitting it to operate on their road networks.

This includes focusing discussions on building dedicated livestock routes as opposed to seeking blanket road access from councils.

"Councils are generally concerned about the impact of the scheme on their road assets and indicated that they needed more information on the potential cost savings and economic benefits the scheme could deliver for local government," the review says.

"The scheme could be improved by increased focus on communication, council take-up, and funding for maintenance and asset management."

The review says the low number of councils participating has led to a disconnected HML network and is a key impediment to the success of the LLS.

NSW roads minister Duncan Gay says the scheme is improving productivity in the transport and agriculture industries and that the task is now before the NSW Government to convince councils of its benefits.

"The scheme has the potential to deliver considerable productivity gains for the entire livestock production sector as well as improving safety, animal welfare and the overall condition of regional roads and highways," he says.

"The evidence is in for the benefits of broader take-up and it will be our task now to ensure councils are aware of the scheme’s value to regional businesses and economies."

The trucking industry’s view of the LLS has been markedly different to that of councils, with the review saying operators are "almost unanimously positive" about it.

"As at 1 July 2013, 30 operators and 225 vehicles were enrolled in the scheme. By 29 May 2014, enrolment numbers had grown to 128 operators and 848 vehicles," the review says.

Trucking operators enrolled in the LLS must put their drivers through an approved livestock safety training program, and the review says this requirement is having a positive effect.

"The driver training has been most effective in raising the overall proficiency and competency of those drivers who participated," it says.

Operators must also fit their trucks with certified road friendly suspension and, in the case of triple combinations, enrol in the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) and the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) to gain LLS accreditation.

The review also suggests trialling the use of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC).

The NSW Government says it will hold discussions with the Centre for Road Safety about the feasibility of ESC trials for livestock vehicles.


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