27 Feb 2009

Farmers object to testing station closure plans

9:01 am on 27 February 2009

Federated Farmers is challenging a proposal to close 54 of the 127 of the vehicle testing sites in rural areas, saying it will clog up roads, reduce productivity and hit the pockets of businesses.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has informed Vehicle Testing New Zealand that some of its heavy vehicle testing stations could have to close if they cannot carry out a heavy braking test introduced in March 2007.

Agency spokesperson Andy Knackstedt says machinery for that test cannot be transported to the sites and therefore safety is being compromised.

He says it is very important to ensure brakes on heavy vehicles are safe, and the tests are in the interests of all road users.

Mr Knackstedt says no decisions on any sites have been made, the review is still at submission stage and there is no cut off date set.

Federated Farmers says the proposals include the closure of testing stations used by the army at Linton and Waioru, and facilities used by the Fonterra and Westland dairy companies and some rural fire services.

The organisation's transport spokesperson Donald Aubrey says such closures would be inconvenient for farms and rural businesses and add to congestion on the roads, as trucks and agricultural vehicles would have to travel considerable distances to testing stations.

Road Transport Association spokesperson Pete Goodwin says some of the stations under review do, in fact, have the right equipment.

Mr Goodwin says if just three stations were to close in Canterbury it would cost the transport industry an $1.5 million a year.