Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Public Weighbridges Usage.

4.

asked the Minister for Justice the average number of times per day each new public weighbridge is used.

At present ten new public weighbridges are operational. Two of the weighbridges concerned came into operation in August and November 1987 only respectively. Details of the number of weighings in 1987 at each of the locations in question are set out in the form of a tabular statement which it is proposed to circulate in the Official Report.

I might add that it was never intended that these weighbridges would be manned continually by the Garda in view of the many other demands on Garda time and resources and because the most effective way to enforce the relevant legislation is to operate the weighbridges in an unpredictable pattern. Under the Road Traffic Act, 1961, a weighbridge can be used only to check vehicles stopped within a five-mile radius of the weighbridge. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, is considering extending this limit to ten miles in the context of an amending Road Traffic Bill.

No. of weighings in 1987 at each of the ten new public weighbridges

Local Authority

Location

No. of Weighings

1.

Cork County Council

Ballyadam, Midleton

377

2.

Cork County Council

South of Fermoy

22

3.

Dublin County Council

Rathcoole

340

4.

Galway County Council

Oranmore

115

5.

Kildare County Council

Boherphilip, Kill

140

6.

Limerick Corporation

Childers Road, Limerick

163

7.

Louth County Council

Dromad

2,112

8.

Meath County Council

Kinnegad/Clonard

56

9.

Wexford County Council

Ballindinas

266

10.

Wicklow County Council

Newtownmountkennedy

170

Is the Minister happy with the investment of public funds in the construction and introduction of new public weighbridges bearing in mind the vast number of private weighbridges throughout the country which could be utilised by his Department if deemed necessary? I am not sure exactly what amount of public funds was injected into the construction of such weighbridges in recent years, particularly in 1987. Would the Minister say whether it is his intention to continue with the introduction of additional weighbridges nationwide at the expense of the taxpayer?

The Deputy should know that it is the Minister for the Environment who is responsible for policy making and drafting of legislation in this respect. My responsibility is in respect of the Garda Síochána who enforce the law in this matter.

Is there any reason civilians could not be engaged in such work instead of the Garda?

I thank the Deputy for posing a question relating to a matter near and dear to my heart, that of civilisation in this area. It is a matter that will be examined very closely.

I am calling Question No. 5.

Will the Minister let me know if there are sufficient weighbridges to cover the whole national road network because there is a belief among hauliers who work in a closely monitored area that they are at a disadvantage compared to those who may work in an area where they do not have to worry about weighbridges? Will the Minister agree that, if this scheme is to be implemented properly, it must be done on a nationwide basis?

I understand that apart from the new weighbridges there are 92 others which are mainly privately owned and which have also been appointed under the Road Traffic Acts for use by the Garda for checking the weights of vehicles. These are only available during working hours and cannot be readily used to weigh the vehicles of the owners or of their customers. The Garda have also been equipped with pilot sets of mobile axle weight pads which can be used to enforce the maximum vehicle weight regulations outside the five mile limit. Successful prosecutions have been brought in a number of District Courts and the typical fine imposed is in the order of £250 per overloaded axle.

Deputy J. Bruton rose.

This is the second time I have called Question No. 5. I must insist on hearing it.