7 November 1998



Regulations on transporting fertilisers are becoming increasingly complex.Lucy de la Pasture checks out the legal niceties with Dr Steve Smith of the NFU.

NEED to move ammonium nitrate fertilisers further than around the farm or across a public road? You could be breaking the law unless you fully understand the complex rules once fertiliser takes to the road.

Ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilisers with an N content greater than 27% (UN Nos 2067-2071) are generally classified as oxidising agents and are therefore subject to the Carriage of Dangerous Goods By Road Regulations 1996 (CDG Road).

However, there are different rules for bags and for bulk. If the AN fertiliser is packaged in bags, the regulations dont come into force until more than 500kg is carried. With the same fertiliser carried in bulk there is no threshold and the regulations apply regardless of the quantity being carried.

"This means that ammonium nitrate in a spinner mounted on a tractor is subject to the regulations," explains Dr Steve Smith, the NFUs head of technical services. "However, there are total and partial agricultural exemptions from the regulations which allow concessions to growers under specific conditions."

The only total exemption applicable to growers is the Private Premises Exemption which allows localised movement of AN fertiliser around the farm and in circumstances where the farm is divided by a public highway.

"If a grower is moving AN fertiliser from the holding to a field half-a-mile down the road then this exemption does not apply," says Dr Smith. "Transport between separate holdings, even if they are in the same occupation, is also not covered."

The regulations also contain an Agricultural Exemption specific to AN fertilisers and this is conditional on compliance with a number of specified conditions.

"Provided the grower is using agricultural machinery, the total load is not in excess of 10 tonnes and the journey is between agricultural land in a radius of 12km (7.45 miles) from the holding, the exemption will apply," explains Dr Smith.

However, even if the above conditions are fulfilled, there are a number of general conditions which apply to the agricultural exemption from the full regulations.

Clear markings

"For bulk transport in a fertiliser spreader an orange-coloured panel bearing the UN number for the goods carried and the appropriate emergency action code must be displayed on the front, or rear, or both sides of the vehicle," says Dr Smith. "This allows the emergency services to identify immediately the substance being carried and take the appropriate action in case of an accident."

Alternatively, an orange-coloured panel can be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. This should also be displayed when AN fertiliser is carried in packages unless the danger signs on the packages are clearly visible from outside the vehicle.

"Such a situation may occur where IBCs (big bags) of AN fertiliser are being carried on a flat bed trailer," explains Dr Smith.

The second requirement of the agricultural exemption is that the driver of the vehicle must have the emergency information relating to the goods being carried, unless the vehicle is already marked with the orange placard bearing the emergency action code. The third requirement is that the vehicle markings must be kept clean and visible at all times.

Once all the requirements of the agricultural exemption are satisfied there are still a number of safety-related requirements which apply to growers under the regulations.

"The most applicable of these relates to the parking of trailers containing AN fertiliser and leaving them unattended in a field away from the holding," says Dr Smith. "If the load exceeds 5,000kg it must left be in an isolated position or at least away from public highways and dwellings."

The two main points to bear in mind when transporting AN fertiliser are that if the load being carried exceeds 10t or if the load is travelling a distance more than a 12km radius from the holding, then the full CDG Road Regulations apply.

"Similarly, there is no exemption on the collection of AN fertiliser from a distributor or manufacturer – even if this is within a 12km radius, journeys must be between land used for an agricultural purpose," says Dr Smith. "The one exception to this is when collecting less than 500kg of fertiliser in small bags which would be below the threshold at which the regulations become applicable."

The second set of regulations covering the transport of dangerous goods are the Carriage of Dangerous Goods By Road (Driver Training) Regulations 1996. Among other things these specify that drivers of vehicles hold a vocational training certificate (ADR certificate) for the class of goods being carried.

Agricultural contractors under both sets of regulations are able to claim the same exemptions as growers, allowing them to move AN up to the maximum distance of 12km.

Legal pointers on fertiliser movement

&#8226 Fertilisers which carry the oxidising agent symbol (yellow diamond) are subject to the Carriage of Dangerous Goods By Road Regulations 1996 and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods By Road (Driver Training) Regulations 1996. These include AN fertilisers with UN numbers 2067-2072. Urea and most compound fertilisers are not subject to these rules.

&#8226 The regulations apply for any quantity of dangerous goods transported in bulk and for packaged quantities in excess of 500kg.

&#8226 Private Premises Exemption is total and allows localised movement only around the holding.

&#8226 Agricultural Specific Exemption is conditional and subject to specific and general conditions.

For AN fertiliser the specific conditions are:

1. The vehicle is an agricultural machine.

2. Goods are not carried in a tank (a spinner is not in this category).

3. Load does not exceed 10t.

4. The journey is between pieces of land occupied for agricultural purposes within a radius of 12km.

General conditions refer to vehicle marking, emergency information and display.

Agricultural exemption cannot be claimed if the above conditions are not satisfied and the full regulations will be applicable. These include:

&#8226 Driver vocational training (ADR certificate).

&#8226 More vehicle marking.

&#8226 More product information.

&#8226 Provision of availability of specialist advice by telephone at any time the goods are being carried.

Examples of circumstances that cannot be claimed under an exemption:

&#8226 Collection of AN fertiliser in bulk or more than 500kg of packaged material from a merchants or manufacturers premises.

&#8226 Journeys to land more than 12km from the holding.

&#8226 Journeys made with non-agricultural vehicles

&#8226 Loads in excess of 10t.

&#8226 Vehicle is not appropriately marked or carrying emergency information.

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