AT AgQuip in Gunnedah this week, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay encouraged regional councils to participate in the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme, on the back of recent findings of an independent review.
The review found the Scheme could save producers up to $10.2 million a year in livestock transport costs and reduce more than 7,000 annual truck trips on regional roads and highways if it was taken up by a greater number of shire councils.
"The NSW Government introduced the Livestock Loading Scheme in 2012 to boost regional productivity, help stimulate more jobs in agriculture, and reduce the number of smaller truck movements on state and council owned roads," Mr Gay said.
"The Livestock Loading Scheme has enabled the use of safer and more productive freight trucks, helping to reduce 'wear and tear' on local and regional roads.
"Since March 2013, more than 800 professional livestock carrier drivers have also benefitted from practical driver training courses, which go a long way to improving safety on our roads.
"Drivers are provided with information on rules for operating under the Scheme as well as learning about how to prevent truck roll-overs by better understanding how the loading of livestock impacts the centre of gravity of a laden vehicle.
"Feedback from industry and local councils through the independent review has confirmed the positive impact of the Scheme for businesses and regional communities."
The Livestock Loading Scheme was developed in consultation with meat and livestock industry groups as well as local government. It allows for slightly increased weight limits for livestock trucks contingent on the adoption of additional vehicle standards, safety measures and driver training.
"Sensible truck weights result in increased levels of freight productivity and fewer truck movements, which in turn means 'less wear and tear' on our roads and highways. To date, 21 regional councils have enrolled in the Scheme," Mr Gay said.
"The Scheme is yet another example of the NSW Government's commitment to improving freight productivity for the agricultural sector in regional NSW.
"Since 2011, we've invested almost $1.9 billion in grants to help councils build and repair local roads, including our $43 million Fixing Country Roads initiative.
"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.
"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 Review of the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme summary is available online at http://www.freight.transport.nsw.gov.au
Full story here: http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/livestock-transport-reforms-a-winner-for-country-n/2748074/