Plans to increase European regulation around motorbikes and quads could raise running costs and drive up quad prices by up to 60%, Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon has warned.

European Commission proposals to improve the safety of ATVs could lead to increased insurance, maintenance and import taxes, as well as forcing farmers to license them, the Scottish MEP warned.

Tabling amendments against the proposals, which would see farm quads required to have limited engine power and electronic systems designed for road traffic fitted, Mr Lyon said hill farmers could be seriously affected by the changes.

He said the proposals as they stood, which also include fitting a rear differential, having a reduced wheel base and noise controls, failed to make a distinction between ATVs used on roads and quads for farm use.

“If this proposal becomes law then many farmers and foresters will be faced with a huge rise in the cost of the bike, while insurance, maintenance and taxes will go up.

Road-spec bikes would be higher off the ground, making them less stable on steep ground, while a rear differential instead of a fixed back axle would make ATVs likely to lose traction on undulating ground, he added.

“To cap it all they are likely to be heavier and less powerful.

“I have tabled amendments that will recognise the difference between road and farm ATVs and allow manufacturers to continue making quad bikes that are tailored to the needs of the farming industry.”

Ben Coates, NFU assistant regulatory affairs adviser, said the proposals would undermine ATVs’ current use and have an immediate negative impact on farmers.

“We also estimate that the increased technical standards would make vehicles between 40% and 60 % more expensive to design and build,” he said.

“We welcome George Lyon’s efforts to improve the proposals and will lobby the parliament to support his amendments.”