A local farmer who was facing a possible fine of up to £1,000 for smoking in his tractor will not face prosecution, Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has confirmed.
According to the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), the farmer was parked off the road at a filling station when a council tobacco control officer claimed to observe him smoking in a commercial vehicle capable of carrying more than one person.
The UFU said that notice was served on its member detailing the tractor’s registration, the time and location and warning of potential fines.
This was accompanied by a two-page form to disclose full details of the tractor, the person driving it and the tax status of the John Deere agricultural tractor.
The UFU called the incident “a warning to farmers that they cannot escape red tape, even in their tractor or off the public road.”
The union branded the move by the council “bizarre”, and UFU Deputy President, Barclay Bell said it seemed to be taking the Northern Ireland Smoking Order (2006) to extreme lengths.
Today the council confirmed that following further investigations, the farmer will not be fined for his actions.
“Under The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, it is against the law to smoke in work vehicles used by more than one person, even if those persons use the vehicle at different times, or only work intermittently. A tractor may be classed as such a vehicle.
“Regarding the case in question the completed Article 12 notice has been returned by the registered owner, and as the vehicle is only used by one person the smoking legislation does not apply. Therefore no fixed penalty will be issued,” a council spokesperson said.