NSW Roads and Maritime Services is assisting community members currently helping the state’s farmers and their families with the efficient movement of essential hay, food and stock to and from drought-affected areas.
The newly introduced NSW Class 3 Drought Assistance Dimension Exemption Notice 2018 allows eligible vehicles which comply with the conditions of the Notice, to operate without the need to apply for a permit.
Susie Mackay, Roads and Maritime Services Director Freight, said to give these operators peace of mind they are operating within the conditions of the Notice, a dedicated webpage at www.rms.nsw.gov.au/drought-freight and a helpline have been established.
“Information for operators wishing to provide drought relief transport can be found on the dedicated Roads and Maritime webpage. We strongly encourage operators to call the toll free helpline on 1800 952 292 to speak to an advisor before they travel,” Ms Mackay said.
“It is vital we get these drought relieving supplies through to farmers, but it is also equally vital we ensure the safety of transport operators and all road users as well.
“There have been a couple of incidences where vehicles have been overloaded and rolled over as a consequence.
“Though they have tried to do the right thing to help farmers, some transport operators have not prepared their vehicles and loads properly, meaning they have had to be directed to fix these problems before travelling any further.
“Transporting hay bales is not an easy task as the bales can move during transit if not properly secured, or are stacked too high, too wide or both. This is why we want to help transport operators make sure they meet the conditions of the notice and get the hay to where it is critically needed in a safe and efficient manner.
“We don’t want to delay the hay getting through but we have an important duty to ensure everyone is operating safely, which is why we are asking hay transport operators to ‘dial before they drive’,” Ms Mackay said.
Road and Maritime has also received feedback from members of the community who have found the free service quick and simple to use.
Mandy, a farmer from Tomingley in NSW, said she contacted Roads and Maritime on the new freight information line for advice about hay transport on a road train from Beulah in Victoria.
“As a farmer, I need to keep the cost of freight as low as possible. The team quickly investigated my situation, providing clear advice on the most efficient way to get the feed to the farm,” Mandy said.
“I recommend the specialist team at Roads and Maritime for anyone looking to transport freight to or from drought areas in NSW.”
Ms Mackay said it’s great to see operators who traditionally have moved other goods are now assisting with the movement of hay and fodder, especially donated feed.
“Moving hay, just like other commodities, is a specialist task and some operators may inadvertently breach loading regulations,” Ms Mackay said.
“We don’t want unsafe situations on our roads and we don’t want to get in the way of moving feed efficiently but we do need to be assured this feed is being transported and delivered to farms as safely and efficiently as possible.
“The website and helpline are not just for first-time operators but also for seasoned transporters, as recent changes mean they can move more with each truck than they have been able to previously. All transporters are strongly encouraged to jump on the phone before each trip to ensure they are up to date with the extra assistance measures.”
Ms Mackay said Roads and Maritime specialists will continue to provide advice on alternative options, such as alternative routes and decoupling opportunities.
Operators may also use the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) Portal to apply for high productivity vehicle access, with a link at www.rms.nsw.gov.au/drought-freight.
Drought applications are being prioritised through the NHVR portal, https://service.nhvr.gov.au, by including the word DROUGHT in the reference section of the application. Permit application fees are being refunded for drought applications.
The NSW Government has announced more than $1 billion dollars’ worth of funding to support farmers and their families affected by drought, including waiving registration for agricultural vehicles and subsidies for transporting hay, water and livestock.
A Drought Hub has been established as a one-stop shop for information and support at www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au.
Source: NSW Government