CHANGES to the Harvest Mass Management Scheme (HMMS) mean WA growers will have to apply to Main Roads to continue utilising routes not approved within the Restricted Access Vehicle (RAV) Network when transporting grain this delivery season.
On top of this, trucks that fall under the RAV category will now be required to travel at speeds no faster than 40 kilometres per hour and activate a flashing amber light when carting grain on unapproved roads.
The changes come after Main Roads received legal advice recommending it discontinue previous access arrangements that were “not adequately meeting its road safety obligations”.
Over the past two years Main Roads has allowed RAVs to cart grain loaded on-farm to the nearest RAV network access point and onwards to grain receival sites via unapproved roads without registration during the harvest period.
This arrangement was put in place to deal with the large amount of grain that was expected to be moved over the consecutive seasons.
However despite the high chance of another large WA crop, uncertainty has surrounded HMMS requirements for the upcoming harvest since Main Roads was advised to change its access arrangements, and concerns have been raised over a proposal that suggested an agricultural pilot be required to accompany grain trucks between the farm gate and its nearest RAV approved road.
The proposal has been met with resistance from farmers and agricultural lobby groups, all suggesting a pilot was an unnecessary burden on growers.
WAFarmers general executive officer Grady Powell said his organisation had worked closely with CBH Group to demonstrate to Main Roads that the HMMS could be maintained safely and efficiently without applying a requirement for an agricultural pilot to escort grain trucks during harvest.
He said although growers would be required to fill in extra paperwork this season, the result of consultation with Main Roads was positive.
“We were looking pretty close to losing the scheme in terms of its access but its probably worked out quite well in that we might have another bit of paperwork, but I’m hoping it might be short-term pain for long-term gain,” Mr Powell said.
“We’re a lot better off than where we were, because before the access arrangements that we’ve agreed to, there was a proposal from Main Roads to have an agricultural pilot in front of every truck so that’s another car and another person.
“We’re happy for where we’ve landed.”
Mr Powell said growers would have to register the roads they utilised to deliver grain that were not already on the approved network before harvest.
Main Roads will then assess the nominated roads between the paddock and the nearest road approved for RAV Network access to ensure they are safe for the proposed RAV combination.
If deemed safe, Main Roads will endorse the HMMS Road List, which truck drivers will be required to carry within their vehicle at all times.
Mr Powell encouraged growers to submit their paperwork to Main Roads as soon as possible.
He was hopeful the new system would be beneficial to growers in the long-term, allowing more roads to be added to the RAV network in future years.
“The roads that are registered will be assessed by Main Roads to gauge whether they can be put on the network in a full time capacity,” Mr Powell said.
“I’m hoping that if we get a good data set of roads that farmers are using, we can see where the movements are taking place, but also we can collect all of that data so in the background Main Roads can see if many of those roads can be put onto the approved network.
“Then in future years the farmer won’t have to re-apply with this form every year, and we’re going to have all that access hopefully all year around.”
Mr Powell said Main Roads representatives would be available at the WAFarmers marquee at this year’s Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days to further discuss the changes with growers.