CLA East’s plea to councils to keep road works to a minimum during harvest

CLA East is urging county councils across the region to carefully consider their ongoing programme of road works so as not to adversely impact the busiest period in the farming year.

The organisation, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, says it has already received calls from members worried about repairs and closures taking place during harvest.

Last year, a CLA member in Norfolk faced a 20-mile diversion instead of the usual four-mile trip between his land and grain store. While an Essex-based member reported that a suggested diversion around road works would use a lane that was too narrow for his vehicles to pass down.

CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward said: “We’ve been regularly liaising with county councils across the region to ensure they are aware of the disruption road works on specific routes can cause farmers during the annual harvest and post-harvest cultivations.

“Councils often schedule road works at this time of year so as not to affect school bus services and make the most of favourable weather. However, this does not take into account the serious disruption caused to rural businesses at what is the busiest period in the farming year.

“Harvest can be an extremely stressful period and the addition of road works is a complication farmers could do without. They need unrestricted road access for the passage of agricultural vehicles.

“The work is almost continuous during daylight hours to take maximum advantage of suitable weather windows and to keep both combine harvester and grain dryer working efficiently and at full capacity.

“Diversions mean additional mileage added to multiple trips to and from fields each and every day, taking up valuable time and adding costs that could easily run into thousands.

“We want councils to carefully consider the needs of farmers by keeping road works to a minimum at this time of the year. Where there is a need to proceed with repairs, we would like to see sympathetic scheduling during the summer months and, if necessary, diversions that do not add unnecessary distance to each journey farmers make to and from their fields.

“With low commodity prices, farmers are struggling to make their crops pay and they do not need the added complication of roads being closed at a crucial time for their businesses.”

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