Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Haulage Industry

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

82. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport his views on the challenge facing the road haulage sector here in view of increasing fuel costs and the shortage of drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53878/21]

I raised this issue at our previous session with the Minister and I do so again to have it on record. This is not a reflection on the Minister of State but it is frustrating and disappointing not to have the senior Minister here. In particular, the fact that we did not receive correspondence shows the worst of form. These sessions are arranged well in advance and we could have rearranged today's session.

I ask the Minister of State for her views on the challenge facing the road haulage sector. We have a crisis in the supply chain.

I thank the Deputy. I am taking questions this morning for the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, who must attend Cabinet. As Members know, the climate action plan is being launched later today.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. Like many other sectors of the economy, road haulage is facing the dual challenges of rising costs and labour shortages. The global oil price has increased substantially in 2021. However, the Minister for Finance has retained the diesel rebate scheme for the present. The scheme, first introduced in 2013, allows haulage and bus operators licensed by the Department to apply to Revenue for a rebate on tax paid on diesel purchased in the State. The rebate rate is based on the average purchase price of diesel provided by the Central Statistics Office, CSO. The rebate amount is capped at 7.5 cent per litre. VAT-registered businesses are also eligible to claim a refund on the VAT paid for diesel used in the course of business activities.

In relation to the shortage of heavy goods vehicle, HGV, drivers, the national logistics and supply chain skills group, chaired by the Department, has been engaged on this issue since it was established in 2019. All relevant Departments and agencies, as well as the haulage and logistics sector, are represented on the group. I have asked the group to examine the HGV driver shortage issue and make recommendations. In the meantime, I have been working with colleagues across government to help address the current difficulties. Following engagement with the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy English, and discussions between the Department of Transport and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the quota for employment permits for HGV drivers from outside the EU is being removed. In tandem with this, the Road Safety Authority, RSA, is pursuing HGV driver licence exchange agreements with a number of non-EU countries to allow drivers from these countries to apply for Irish employment permits. I have had a range of meetings with the haulage and logistics sector to discuss the issue and get their perspective on the key actions that will help ease to the current shortage of drivers. I have also written to the education and training boards in relation to the matter.

I thank the Minister of State. It is worth pointing out three of the five priority questions are on this issue, which highlights its importance. We are in the run-up to Christmas and there considerable focus on it, as there needs to be.

The Minister of State referred to a number of issues and I will reflect on some of them from the perspective of the sector. On the fuel rebate, the sector is saying the scheme needs to be reviewed and expanded and must support the transition to alternative fuels. The sector points to the fact that gas is currently more expensive than diesel and is not included in the scheme. Fuel accounts for one third of operators' costs. The sector points to the impact of the carbon tax and the fact it is not recirculated into the sector. I ask the Minister of State to respond on those points, after which I will discuss HGVs and workers.

On the carbon tax, as the Deputy knows, the Minister for Finance sets policy on tax and excise duties on fuel. The increase this year, which related to the already planned carbon tax, amounts to between 2 cent and 2.5 cent per litre of petrol and diesel. Revenue from any increase in carbon tax is ring-fenced and goes directly towards alleviating negative effects for those who cannot afford increases in the price of energy. I understand the pressures on the sector. I have been engaging with the Irish Road Haulage Association, IRHA, and the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, FTAI, as well as other haulage companies throughout the country to highlight the needs of the sector and to ensure we have a robust supply and do all we can on a cross-government level to address the driver shortage issue. This is not just an Irish issue, as the Deputy knows, but a European and global problem.

I am sure other Deputies will come in on the same points. On fuel costs, the Government needs to act where it has an opportunity or is in a position to do so. There are such opportunities with the rebate, the carbon tax and elsewhere.

I will now focus on the issue of workers. I am hearing a number of things from the sector. The issue is one of bureaucracy. According to the sector, the Department with responsibility for business is struggling to cope with the process and there are hold-ups with the RSA in terms of the licence checking process. The Minister of State mentioned guidance to the sector. The expert skills group was to have delivered a report in September. It is now November. Guidance for the sector has not been provided. I am trying to be constructive and point to ways to address this problem that are in the Government's gift. I am conscious that not everything is within its gift but there are measures that could be taken to help alleviate the crisis.

The skills group will report back shortly. It is important to note, however, that a great deal of work is under way in the meantime. My engagement with the Minister of State, Deputy English, on the quotas for work permits is one example. On the RSA, it is the authority's role to engage in relation to securing licence exchange agreements with other countries.

This is a long process and in such circumstances both countries have to ensure they meet the standards. We are focusing on a number of countries in response to what has come from the sector itself though my engagement with representatives of the road haulage and logistics sectors. The Road Safety Authority is focusing on Argentina, Moldova, North Macedonia and Ukraine in respect of those licensing exchange agreements. For example, I met with the ambassador of Argentina to see what we can do to try to progress these exchange agreements and make sure we are not coming up with challenges unnecessarily. The Department of Foreign Affairs is assisting the Department of Transport with that diplomatic engagement.

Rail Network

Catherine Murphy

Question:

83. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport if he will engage with Irish Rail and the NTA in respect of extending DART+ West to Kilcock, County Kildare. [53836/21]

My question relates to the DART+ project, an important project which I strongly support. The scope of the project is terminated 2 km or 2.5 km before Kilcock. I went to the Department yesterday and brought the Minister, Deputy Ryan, a map so he would have it today because a picture speaks a thousand words, but he is not here. Essentially, this question is about him seeking to engage with the NTA to expand the scope of this project to take in the town of Kilcock, which has a population of approximately 8,000.

I received the Deputy's map so we got that correspondence. I will read out the reply on behalf of the Minister. DART+ West is the most advanced of the infrastructure projects that make up the overall DART+ programme. As outlined in the transport strategy for the greater Dublin area, DART+ will extend or enhance the current DART system west to Maynooth and Celbridge-Hazelhatch, south to Greystones and north to Drogheda. The transport strategy sets the overall framework within which the programme is being developed, including its overall geographic scope. However, it is not to say that future extensions to the new network, once DART+ has been deployed, cannot be considered. In fact, as I understand it, the review of the transport strategy, which is under way and will be subject to public consultation this month, will make proposals in that regard. I have no doubt the Deputy will make her views known during the consultation period.

I recognise that there is a view locally that the current DART+ West project should be extended to include Kilcock at the new depot on the line. That line lies west of Maynooth station on the way to Kilcock. I am informed that to extend the twin tracking and electrification beyond the depot into Kilcock faces a number of technical constraints, such as clearance issues at existing bridge structures; turnback facilities and the layout of the existing Kilcock station; and insufficient width on the approach to Kilcock to accommodate double tracking. These issues and others would require detailed consideration and engineering assessment.

As I mentioned, DART+ West is currently the most advanced of all the DART+ infrastructure projects and the current focus is on ensuring the existing project is brought forward into the planning system and moves into construction as soon as possible. DART+ West will transform rail services in north Kildare, west Dublin and the broader region thanks to the new depot. I assure the Deputy that future extensions can be considered at a later date.

This is the second time there has been a later date for Kilcock. The track was doubled between Clonsilla and Maynooth some years ago after extensive engagement with community groups. Kilcock was left out at that stage. The town's residents will rely on the Sligo line for commuter services, while the eight-shed depot that is being constructed is in Kilcock. It is across the road from a new housing estate on the Meath side of the town.

There is complete unanimity across the political spectrum on delivery of this project. People just cannot understand why its scope did not go further. The very same points were made about not being able to fit a double track when we argued for it all those years ago. It was fitted and is a very successful service. Some time ago, I received a reply that informed me it was not surveyed in detail. I question the information the Minister of State is being given on this matter. We get the population but we do not get the services to go with it, which is the worst of all worlds.

I share the Deputy's ambition on this matter, as would most people. The two primary reasons we simply cannot extend DART+ to Kilcock at this point are linked to the way land use and transport planning works in the greater Dublin area and engineering. Uniquely in Ireland, there is a statutory transport strategy for the greater Dublin area and it has set the geographic scope of the DART+ programme. That scope is then reflected in all land use strategies for the area.

The strategy states that the DART will be extended to Maynooth, which is the planning context for the overall DART+ West project that will be considered by the planning authorities. The scope can be changed but that must happen through the review of the transport strategy, which will reconfirm the delivery of DART+ as it stands, but will also state that future extensions beyond the current scope be considered in the future as separate projects. We could extend DART+ West to Kilcock but it first needs to be reflected in the transport strategy. It will then be considered as a stand-alone project into the future.

I ask the Minister of State to pay attention every morning when she listens to AA Roadwatch reports. She will hear the M4 and the M7 repeatedly referenced, yet DART+ is not going beyond Hazelhatch on the Kildare line and it is not going to Kilcock on the Maynooth and Sligo lines.

We know we are in a climate emergency and have to get people onto public transport. It just does not make sense not to go 2 km further to an area with 8,000 people who are in the commuter belt and are travelling to Maynooth in their cars, parking there to get the train, blocking the train station and adding to congestion there. Kilcock residents can see the depot from the houses across the road where a station could be provided. Even if we cannot go as far as providing a station, all sorts of other facilities, such as sidings, could be used. This is a very disappointing response.

I understand the Deputy's frustration. As I said, I share her ambition on this matter, but the fact is it would delay the process. DART+ West is the most advanced of the four infrastructure projects, with two rounds of non-statutory public consultations already completed. Its next step, subject to Government approval, is to enter the statutory planning system. As I said, this matter can be reflected in the revised transport strategy and it will then be considered as a stand-alone project into the future. I will relay the Deputy's concerns to the Minister in that context.

Public Transport

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

84. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Transport the action he is taking to keep transport workers and passengers safe on buses, trains and trams given the worrying reports of threats, violence and antisocial behaviour on public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53879/21]

What action has the Minister of State taken to keep transport workers and passengers safe on buses, trains and trams, given the worrying reports of threats, violence, antisocial behaviour, and worse, on public transport? I ask her to make a statement on the matter.

I thank the Deputy for this question and the opportunity to discuss the very serious issue of antisocial behaviour on our public transport systems. The safety and security of both public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with antisocial behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate. The NTA is also engaged with public transport operators regarding the issue of antisocial behaviour. My Department has engaged regularly with the NTA and the three CIÉ companies on the issue of antisocial behaviour and in ensuring the safety of passengers and staff. In their responses, all three companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána on these issues. Furthermore, while I am of course concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff, the allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.

On the action being taken to ensure the safety of transport workers and passengers, my Department has been advised by Iarnród Éireann that a joint Iarnród Éireann-Garda focus on public order and antisocial behaviour has been in place since May of this year. A particular focus has been on the greater Dublin area with emphasis on the DART, the northern line and the Heuston to Portlaoise services. A new security monitoring centre, which has been in operation since January 2021, has played a key role in targeting high-risk locations with a particular focus on groups of youths with bicycles using the network to avoid Garda road checkpoints. For the months of June and July, 2,852 fixed penalty notices were issued during the joint operations for fare evasion, with 4,348 issued in the year to date.

There has been a noticeable increase in compliance and a corresponding reduction in antisocial behaviour. A new text alert service has also been introduced to enable customers to discreetly report antisocial behaviour incidents and allow security personnel or gardaí to respond.

I thank the Minister of State for her response. This is an issue that has been in the news in recent days and weeks. We have all heard first-hand the experiences of both passengers and workers. It is of serious concern for a number of reasons, not least the impact it has on the individuals affected. I know from speaking to workers and their representatives, not just in the transport unions but elsewhere as well, that they are not calling for transport police, like the airport police or the transport police they have in other places. As I understand it, they are calling for a division of the Garda focused on public transport, the same way we have the roads policing unit, the drugs squad or whatever else it may be. Is that something the Department has considered or will consider? The Minister of State has some experience in the Department of Justice.

It is important to note that An Garda Síochána engages extensively with transport operators and that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to address incidents and issues that have arisen at specific locations. There is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the respective control centres and access to good-quality CCTV can assist the Garda when investigating serious incidents. For example, an interagency operation was established involving gardaí in Dublin and Iarnród Éireann targeting incidents of graffiti and criminal damage to train carriages on the north Dublin train line. As part of this operation, gardaí conducted patrols of rail lines in an effort to target groups involved in this activity. Iarnród Éireann's annual spend on security has risen from €3.7 million in 2016 to an expected spend this year of €5.2 million, with up to 20 security teams operating daily. It is a case of An Garda Síochána working with our public transport operators.

The solution, which if effective might not need to be a long-term one, is visibility, presence and deterrence. I note that there are significant commitments in the programme for Government to the resourcing of the Garda to deal with antisocial behaviour, among other things. Another commitment in the programme for Government is the establishment of a national public transport forum involving all stakeholders and the commencement of section 17 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. That forum would be helpful in dealing with this issue, as well as a range of other issues and we are missing it. When are we going to see it and when will it be populated?

To add to my earlier response, An Garda Síochána established regional quick-response hubs at Portlaoise and Thurles to support our intercity services in order to address incidents of antisocial behaviour on board our services, and this has had a significant impact in reducing antisocial behaviour and increasing compliance. The Minister, Deputy Humphreys, while standing in for the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, spoke to the Garda Commissioner and senior gardaí about the issue of antisocial behaviour generally and a new operation will be launched very shortly. As the Deputy said, we have secured funding in the budget for 800 new gardaí next year, which will put us on track to meet and beat our target of having a 15,000-strong Garda Síochána force.

What about the transport forum?

I will come back to the Deputy on that.

Haulage Industry

Carol Nolan

Question:

85. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Transport if he will address concerns in relation to the haulage and logistics sector which is under significant financial and operational pressure due to increases in carbon tax and the lack of available HGV drivers; if his Department has conducted an assessment of the supply chain repercussions of these challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53431/21]

I thank Deputy Carol Nolan for allowing me to take this slot. I ask the Minister of State to address concerns that the haulage and logistics sector is under significant financial and operational pressure due to the increase in carbon tax and the lack of available HGV drivers. Has the Department conducted any assessment of the supply chain repercussions of these challenges?

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. My response to Deputy O'Rourke's question earlier outlines the position in relation to the driver shortage and increasing fuel costs for the haulage sector. I will focus in this response on the overall position as regards the road haulage sector and supply chain issues.

The programme for Government includes a commitment to publish and implement a ten-year haulage strategy, the first of its kind in Ireland, which will be focused on improving efficiencies and standards, and helping the sector move to a low-carbon future. A public consultation was held earlier this year and the responses to that consultation are being examined. Other forthcoming Government policies and initiatives such as the climate action plan and the new road safety strategy will be relevant in the context of the development of this new road haulage strategy. The intention is to carry out a further consultation on the draft strategy when these initiatives have been published.

Like many other sectors, road haulage is facing the dual challenges of rising costs and labour shortages. The latest consumer price index release for September 2021 shows that prices, on average, were 3.7% higher in September 2021 year on year. The highest increases were in transport and fuel costs. In relation to the shortage of HGV drivers, the national logistics and supply chain skills group, chaired by my Department, has been taking action since it was established in 2019 on future skills needs across all areas of the supply chain. All relevant Departments and agencies, as well as the haulage and logistics sector, are represented on this group. I have asked the group to examine the HGV driver shortage issue and make recommendations.

In the meantime, I have been working with colleagues across government to help address the current difficulties. For example, I have engaged with the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy English. Following those discussions, the quota for employment permits for HGV drivers from outside the EU is being removed. The Road Safety Authority is also pursuing HGV driver licence exchange agreements with non-EU countries. I have held a range of meetings with the sector, as well as writing to Education and Training Boards Ireland to offer support for the many HGV driver courses offered by the ETBs right across the country.

Some 1.5 million Irish homes are to be retrofitted with the support of the State through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI. This programme was costed by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, at €8 billion. The SEAI is costing it at €35 billion over 35 years, as per its website, under deep retrofit. A house will burn in one year what a truck will burn in one week. I ask the Minister of State to do the obvious thing and cut emissions. There are 5 million km to be covered daily by trucks in order to keep Ireland moving. How much could be achieved if the national fleet was upgraded to Euro 6 engines? Why is 45% of our national fleet over ten years old? There is a lack of investment or incentives for hauliers to upgrade their trucks. The value of older trucks, such as Euro 2, Euro 3, Euro 4 or Euro 5 vehicles, went down in the UK and we bought them. A fleet of Euro 6 engine trucks would reduce emissions at a cost of only €108 million and the Government is spending €8 billion on houses, when fuel for a house for a year is fuel for a week for a truck.

The climate action plan will be produced later today. We are going to need emissions reductions across every single sector and, as we are all aware and I am acutely aware from being in the Department, transport faces one of the bigger challenges in this area. We need to ensure that we can support the sectors that need the support most. We need a robust supply chain and that is why I am engaging with the Irish Road Haulage Association, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland and the logistics sector to ensure we can have a robust system. I spoke earlier about the diesel rebate scheme. That is just one part of it, as part of our ten-year haulage strategy. We need to be looking at where the sector will be over the next ten years. Now, with Covid and Brexit, this is a good opportunity to ensure we have a fit-for-purpose sector that is not only responding the climate crisis but also ensures we have a robust supply chain and can keep foods and products on our shelves.

The national HGV fleet of articulated trucks is made up of 24,000 vehicles responsible for 86% of the movement of goods for the Irish economy to function. It does 1.9 billion km per year, as per CSO figures. This equates to over 5 million km travelled per day and over 1.5 million l of fuel consumed per day.

This works out at almost 500 l per truck per week, which supports the statement that a truck burns in one week what a house will burn in one year. There are 10,800 trucks in this country that are more than ten years old. To upgrade these vehicles to a Euro 6 engine would cost only €108 million, not €8 billion. Fuel rebates could be tied in as an incentive.

Last year, 330,000 new trucks were sold in Europe. That confirms that the only way of moving our goods in Europe is by truck. Let us incentivise the use of trucks, bring in Euro 6 engines and reduce our emissions. It is common sense.

I share the Deputy's concerns in regard to ensuring supports are in place. We introduced a grant scheme for alternatively fuelled HGVs and the uptake was extraordinary, which shows there is demand for this, although we need to do more. Technological advances will be required for the sector.

I take the Deputy's point that we need HGV drivers. We can consider other matters through the ten-year haulage strategy regarding that final mile of delivery and what we can do to help reduce emissions. This is why we have opened the public consultation. We have had positive engagement from the sector but we need it to help the Government to help drivers to ensure there is a fit-for-purpose sector whereby we can reduce emissions but in a way-----

Not without the Euro 6 engine.

-----that is fair and-----

The Euro 6 engine is the only engine that can be modified to do it.

-----whereby we are leading the way-----

The Euro 6 engine is the only engine that can be modified in that way.

I heard the Deputy's point clearly-----

It is the only engine that can be modified.

-----and I am responding to him. I hear these concerns every day. I have met the Irish Road Haulage Association, IRHA, and the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, FTAI, and I know their concerns-----

We are the only country in Europe that does not have Euro 6 engines.

We want to reduce our emissions-----

The Euro 6 engine.

-----while ensuring we have a fit-for-purpose logistics and supply chain sector.

We are the only country in Europe that does not have it.

Haulage Industry

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

86. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Transport if he will take steps to ease the pressure on struggling haulage companies, hauliers and motorists in view of the increasing costs of diesel and petrol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53953/21]

Will the Minister of State take measures with regard to the struggling haulage companies and examine what reliefs can be given? I ask this in the context of the Government taking €1 of every €1.70 per litre of diesel. Compared with 16 or 17 months ago, what the Government takes now on every litre of diesel is 40 cent higher. There is room, therefore, for the Government to make an allowance. This fuel is used to haul food, whether it is exported or goes to cities or rural Ireland.

I appreciate this issue is of great concern, which is why it has been raised in the House. I am very aware of increased prices at petrol and diesel pumps over recent weeks. This is an international trend. Wholesale energy prices have increased significantly following rises in international oil and gas prices and a post-lockdown surge in energy demand. While the trajectory of the global energy market is not within our control, indications are this current spike will abate over the coming months.

My colleague the Minister for Finance sets policy in respect of tax and excise duties on fuel. The only increase in this year’s budget in this regard related to the already planned increase in carbon tax. At a time when the eyes of the world are on what governments in developed economies such as ours can do to address climate change, our carbon tax represents an important contribution to that effort.

The diesel rebate scheme partially insulates the licensed haulage and bus sector from such fuel price increases. Under the scheme, qualifying road transport operators can apply for a repayment of part of the mineral oil tax paid on auto diesel purchased in the State. While this current spike in fuel prices is likely to be short lived, it is important to take this opportunity to take stock of our dependence on imported fossil fuels in the transport sector. The new climate action plan, which will be published today, will reduce our reliance on these fuels and allow us to transit to greener renewable energy sources for transport.

Electrification of road transport is key. A comprehensive suite of measures is available to electric vehicle, EV, drivers, including purchase grants for private car owners and taxi drivers, vehicle registration tax, VRT, relief, reduced tolls, home charger grants, and favourable motor and benefit-in-kind, BIK, tax rates. While I appreciate this does not relate to HGV drivers, the plan commits also to increasing biofuel blend rates. These are transitionary fuels that provide time for sectors such as haulage to invest in new, greener technology. As I mentioned, a grant scheme was launched in March to assist the purchase of alternatively fuelled heavy duty vehicles. The take-up of this scheme has been excellent and demonstrates the level of interest in this sector to make the transition.

With due respect to the Minister of State, whatever civil servant wrote her contribution does not know much about the transport industry. There are no articulated lorries in Ireland or Europe at the moment that run on electricity. Whoever wrote the contribution needs to go back and read up on the matter.

As Deputy O'Rourke pointed out, gas is now more expensive than diesel. It costs €18,000 to convert a lorry from diesel to gas. As Deputy O'Donoghue pointed out, the new Euro 6 engine has drastically reduced emissions and we should examine using it to help the haulage industry. The Minister of State is correct in stating international prices of fuel have increased, but every time they do so, the Government gets 65% of the price. It is like a hen clucking. The more the price increases, the more the Government will get. It receives 40 cent more on every litre of the same product in a year because the price has changed, so there is room. I do not say this for the hauliers; I say it for the ordinary people because the food of Ireland is transported throughout this country on lorries.

I take the point the HGV sector is reliant on fossil fuels and I am acutely aware of that. As part of this transition, we are trying to ensure we put in place supports such as the diesel rebate scheme. I mentioned the alternatively fuelled heavy duty vehicle grant, which had a significant uptake from the sector, showing the interest. We are also co-funding three research projects with Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, focusing on decarbonising the freight sector. This will not be easy and it will not happen next week. I am very aware of that. Nevertheless, we are working across government to ensure we reduce our emissions and protect the sector. Part of that relates to the ten-year haulage strategy, the first of its kind in Ireland. Now is the time for people to feed in positively and constructively to the sector, as they are doing, relaying their needs and what they need to do to help support their sector into the future.

I welcome what the Minister of State said about research being carried out and I understand all that, but the crisis is now. I will be the first to admit there is a grant to help people move from diesel to gas, but the cost of doing so is probably €17,000 or €18,000. They will pay more than if they had kept diesel. That is a fact.

I reiterate there is a difference of 40 cent between the revenue on diesel the Government was taking in last year and the revenue this year. In light of the crisis with regard to the haulage sector shifting goods throughout the country, there is room for manoeuvre. If the price of diesel had not increased internationally, the Government would not have the additional 40 cent. What it never had, it never wanted.

I accept the Minister of State said much of this cannot be done in the short term and I understand that fully. Even so, for the time being, until we get these electric vehicles that will transport food throughout the country, wherever they are on the horizon, or until gas returns to a normal price, will the Government make a decision on the additional 40 cent to help the ordinary public? They are the ones who will ultimately have to pay.

I will continue to engage, as I have done since I came into this role, with the sector to ensure we protect it. I will also work with my Government colleagues, given this is not just a transport issue. For example, the Minister for Finance sets policy in respect of tax and excise duties on fuel and the only increase this year was the planned carbon tax increase. I will engage with them in respect of that ten-year haulage strategy, which is the vision. We need to set out that long-term plan as well as working on what I outlined earlier as the immediate concerns for the sector, namely, ensuring there is a robust supply chain and that we have the skillset, working with our educational centres, whether through skills for HGV drivers or research in the area of reducing emissions, and ensuring we have vehicles and the technology available.

Some of the strategies are more for the long term. We are working on short, medium and long-term approaches. I share the Deputy's frustration and understand people's questions about the ambition to tackle these issues. This is a global challenge and we must rise to that challenge and work with sectors to ensure our approach is fair and achievable.