Farm Gate Access

The Farm Gate Access Project has been designed to make it easier to apply for and approve safe and legal access for higher productivity vehicles travelling on low volume council roads. This benefits local farmers, businesses, participating councils and the community.

Farm gate access
Farm gate access

Updates and announcements

12 June 2020

Farm Gate Access Working Group meeting

A virtual Farm Gate Access Working Group meeting was held on 4 June 2020. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the results of the evaluation so far, seek feedback from the group on draft project recommendations and outline next steps for the project.

The working group consists of representatives from LBRCA, NSW Farmers, LGNSW, IPWEA, NHVR, TfNSW and each of the pilot councils and the meeting attracted more than 32 participants (including Freight Branch staff).

The following draft recommendations were presented to the group for discussion:

  • Develop a Notice with conditional access. Conditional access means safety mitigations can be applied to roads as required,
  • Increase road managers’ visibility of heavy vehicle movements on low volume roads,
  • Improve the way access is provided to higher productivity vehicles travelling on low volume roads,
  • Increase the level of support and assistance available to local councils when carrying out the road manager function, and
  • Overcome constraints that limit higher productivity vehicle access on local roads.

The feedback was positive with participants interested in the finer detail of the recommendations before providing their endorsement.

Steps toward completing the 12 month evaluation

Further consultation on the proposed recommendations will take place with members of the working group over the coming weeks. This includes the development of a project scoping plan and communications package to outline the detail of the project and the benefits for council who participate in the roll-out.

The final and endorsed recommendations will form the basis of the final evaluation report that will be presented to the Farm Gate Access Working Group by 30 June 2020.

Supporting access decision-making

TfNSW has engaged the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) to develop a risk calculator to provide further support for road managers. The calculator will use factors such as sight distance, acceleration, deceleration, vehicle length and performance to determine the level of risk for different heavy vehicles as they negotiate intersections. The tool will be used to inform access related decisions and can be used to support road managers when considering assessments carried out under the Farm Gate Access project.

TfNSW are expecting to finalise this tool before the end of June 2020.

April 2020

Farm Gate Access Project: Nine month evaluation report

Transport for NSW has completed the nine month evaluation of the Farm Gate Access project.The evaluation of the project has been divided into three stages; assessment of current access and need, assessment of project acceptance and barriers to success, and development of recommendations on how the project can best achieve its objectives.

The first two stages, which are now completed, involved a survey of and consultation with the 18 pilot councils and selected industry and farming interests.

The third stage was to involve two regional workshops to develop recommendations for the how the FGA project can best achieve its objectives based on the findings from the 12 month pilot. This final stage has been revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will now consist of a virtual workshop with the Working Group.

Key findings from the nine month evaluation are:

  • Pilot councils support the Farm Gate Access project objectives and want to play a positive role in increasing transport productivity.
  • Pilot councils are reluctant to provide open access to their road network and have sufficient resources to assess applications for access.
  • Awareness of heavy vehicle movements on the local road network allows councils to determine impact to community and assets.
  • Consultation between industry and councils at the local level would be beneficial.
  • A strategic approach to heavy vehicle road access is required.

A final evaluation report will be presented to the Farm Gate Access Working Group by 30 June 2020.

14 February 2020

Farm Gate Access Project: Six month review

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has completed a six month review of the Farm Gate Access project. This is the first of three reviews to evaluate the framework, assess the level of participation by the farming sector and identify opportunities for improvement.

Since launching the pilot on 1 June 2019, nine risk-based assessments have been completed across five councils. Four of the nine assessments have been attached to a permit application using the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) road access portal. So far, most of the applications have been for:

  • 26 metre B-doubles, vehicle combinations that are up to 4.6 metres in height or being used under the Livestock Loading Scheme,
  • on roads less than 10 kilometres in length and
  • a mix of sealed and unsealed roads.

A number of barriers to success have been identified, namely the impact of the drought and limited marketing of the project to date. Barriers identified during the review will be addressed over the next six months.

The Farm Gate Access Project has been designed to benefit local farmers, businesses, participating councils and the broader community by fostering safe and legal access for heavy vehicles. TfNSW will continue to engage with councils, farmers and industry and identify opportunities to increase freight access.

20 December 2019

To support farmers, Transport for NSW will waive the first 50 Farm Gate Access permit application fees submitted through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Road Access Portal from 6 January 2020. This incentive is applicable for submissions received on eligible roads located within the participating council areas. Farm Gate Access Permit Application Fee Waiver Information Sheet (PDF, 80.96Kb).

2 June 2019

On 1 June 2019, we launched the Farm Gate Access Project as an opportunity to test the use, acceptance and benefits of the decision making framework to approve access for higher productivity vehicles.

The project will be evaluated in conjunction with industry and participating councils. If successful, it will be promoted as an effective way to support access-related decision making on low volume council roads and rolled out more broadly across NSW.

The Farm Gate Access digital checklist is now live.

Farm Gate Access Project

The Farm Gate Access Project has been developed to help councils make timely decisions about access for heavy vehicles on lower risk roads.

The project introduces a road access assessment framework, including a third party risk assessment tool. It aims to provide greater information on the road and roadside as part of the access application to assist local councils in their responsibility as road manager when considering access requests on low volume roads to farms that operate small-scale primary production activities.

The model aims to benefit local farmers, businesses, participating councils and the broader community by fostering safe and legal access for heavy vehicles. 

The project is specific to:

  • local roads that provide access to farms or properties and have limited connectivity to the broader road network
  • low volume roads which carry no more than 200 vehicles per day, where 25 or less of these vehicle movements consist of heavy vehicles operating within general access provisions
  • an occasional task allowing up to 26 return trips per year per property. This means that access to and from the property by one vehicle equates to one trip
  • properties used for the purpose of small-scale primary production activities
  • Restricted Access Vehicles up to and including 26 metre B-doubles, vehicle combinations that are up to 4.6 metres in height, vehicles operating at Higher Mass Limits, or being used under Productivity Schemes such as the Grain Harvest Management Scheme or the Livestock Loading Scheme in accordance with the definitions outlined in the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Road trains are not included in this project.

After 12 months the outcomes will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the framework from the perspective of the agriculture and transport industries, councils and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Councils participating in the project will have the opportunity to lead the refinement of the risk assessment framework and its tools and guidelines, to ensure they are fit for purpose before the project is rolled out broadly.

Improving freight productivity, improving safety and working with local communities
Improving freight productivity, improving safety and working with local communities

The risk assessment model

The model contains a series of questions designed to assess the magnitude of risk on low volume council roads that offer occasional access to certain vehicle types under this project. The assessment will be used to identify risks, identify suitable access conditions to mitigate or reduce the risks, and support the road manager to assess an application for access.

The model encourages the proponent and assessor to consider opportunities to reduce the possible risk by applying conditions to their access. These conditions will ensure safe and legal access that minimises damage to infrastructure.

Once the checklist is complete, a copy of it is sent to the assessor as a pdf before it is attached to a permit application and submitted through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) access portal. The result of the risk assessment is provided to the local council as road manager as supporting documentation to the access request. More information on the application process can be found on the NHVR website help page. Online tutorials are available on NHVR’s YouTube page.

It is noted that local councils have a responsibility under the Heavy Vehicle National Law to approve or decline access requests as road manager. This project does not seek to alter this responsibility; but aims to provide a mechanism to support local councils to identify, assess and manage transport risk when making decisions as a road manager.

The Farm Gate Access digital checklist is now live and ready for use.

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