19 January 1996

Scots man barricades to repel Extra Daylight Bill

By Tony McDougal

BATTLE-LINES were being drawn up this week as farmers north of the border fought to stop Britain from taking the first steps towards adopting central European time.

Scottish NFU President John Ross and chief executive Tom Brady travelled to Westminster to urge MPs to vote today (Friday) against the British Time (Extra Daylight Bill) Private Members Bill.

If adopted, John Valentines (Con, Bournemouth West) bill would leave only the Republic of Ireland and Portugal outside central European time.

Businesses want move

Although Scottish farmers received support from some farm organisations, including the NFU Mutual, a report released by the Confederation of British Industry said three-quarters of businesses favoured a move to forward one hour to CET.

This backed a study produced by ADAS for the European transport directorate, which claimed the extra hour of evening daylight would boost the tourism and leisure industry, reduce energy consumption and lead to better road safety.

But the ADAS report was condemned by Mr Ross, who said farmers in the north of Scotland would have to cope with long, dark mornings.

"This would mean that agricultural machinery and tractors on the road in the hours of darkness. Other hazards would come for farmers and workers because they have to deal with animals first thing in the morning.

"We do not think sufficient research has been done to demonstrate that dark, sometimes icy mornings have safety benefits over dark, late afternoons," said Mr Ross.

John Price, NFU Mutual public relations director, said the concern over additional farm tractor accidents in the morning hours outweighed the benefits of having fewer farm burglaries during the lighter evenings.

Injuries avoided

But studies carried out by Transport Research Laboratory, backed by Herriot Watt University, claimed that 110 deaths and 590 serious injuries could have been avoided in 1994 if the UK had moved to central European time.

If the private members bill gets support in the House, it will go to committee stage and a third reading. Legislation is unlikely to be implemented until autumn 1997. &#42