Statutory Instrument 366 of 2008 sets the maximum vehicle height limit at 4.65 metres and was signed into law by my predecessor, Minister Noel Dempsey. These regulations allowed a five year derogation from that limit for vehicles registered, licensed or in use prior to 1st November 2008. The derogation was introduced to allow a 5-year period within which vehicles operating at heights in excess of the new limits could be withdrawn from use or to allow the necessary height reductions by operators. This derogation expired on the 31st October last.
Following the expiry of the derogation, specific concerns have been raised with me by the agri-sector in relation to the effect that the 4.65 metre maximum vehicle height restriction would have on the cost of transporting fodder. Unfortunately, these concerns were only raised by the sector immediately prior to the expiry of the 5 year derogation in October last, and not prior to the 2008 regulations being signed into law nor in the subsequent five years.
Notwithstanding this, I have considered the various issues involved and consulted with my colleague Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and with Irish Rail and the IFA. Arising from this, my officials are drafting regulations to allow for a very narrow exemption for the haulage of agricultural fodder, i.e. straw and hay only, from the height limits brought in by the 2008 regulations. Those regulations are nearing completion and I hope to be in a position to sign them shortly.