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Road maintenance grants for NSW drought relief

State funding to help accommodate increased freight movements


The NSW government has allocated $15 million towards improving the condition of local roads in wake of increased drought relief freight movement.

As part of the package, eligible councils can apply for up to $300,000 each to help with road maintenance and improvements to accommodate increased freight loads.

Key points of the announcement also include:

  • a focus on shoulder repairs, road surface repairs and signage
  • recently completed projects which improve freight access for drought relief can be considered
  • improvements will be made to strategic freight links and roads that provide relief to other parts of the local network.

“Farmers impacted by the drought are relying on the vital transport of stock, feed and water across the state, which has increased the impact on the road network,” roads, maritime and freight minister Melinda Pavey says.

“Funding will be targeted to support improved productivity for road freight while maintaining or improving safety for road users.”


The announcement may go some way to addressing potential issues relating to hay-carting permit exemptions.

In September, the federal government announced trucks carrying hay and fodder would be able to do so in larger volumes and without a permit.

That exemption was indefinite – to last as long as drought conditions persisted, and was welcomed by industry bodies. But it only applied to certain roads.

Read how industry bodies rallied around a government rule change aimed at assisting trucking operators in drought-affected areas, here

At the time, Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) national president Kevin Keenan says he hoped local councils would adopt the same approach.

“[The] announcement will immediately reduce the cost of moving hay to where it is needed most while also reducing the risk of fines for carriers,” Keenan says.

“The next step is for local governments to get on board as well, because the new notice only applies to state-controlled roads.”

But as Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) explained, the issue was a complex one due to the conditions of some local government roads.

“NSW councils have been working closely with local communities to help ease the hardships suffered by farmers in the current drought, and recognise the potential benefits of a temporary easing of current restrictions on heavy vehicle access on local roads,” an LGNSW spokesperson told ATN.

“Local roads, by their very nature, are not as able as national and state roads to withstand the impact of vehicles up to 2.6m wide and 4.6m high. Individual councils are best placed to understand the capacity of the local roads under their control, and Local Government NSW would urge heavy vehicle operators seeking to assist farmers to approach relevant councils on an individual basis.”

LGNSW today tells ATN the announcement has the sector’s strong support and it would provide more information in due course.


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