Third Report of the Citizens' Assembly: Discussion

Mr. Graham Doyle

Ireland faces a considerable task to achieve its national policy ambition of transition to a climate-resilient, low-carbon society by 2050. The committee has heard much evidence on the extent to which combating climate change is a significant national challenge. Climate measures and policies chosen today will have consequences for Ireland for decades to come. This represents an especially significant challenge for the transport sector in Ireland and elsewhere. The sector must develop approaches to reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Ireland's rising population, our welcome return to economic growth, more people in employment and more goods being transported bring with them an increased number of vehicles on our roads and a rise in the number of kilometres driven. Ireland's economy and society are busy and on the move, which presents the transport sector with various challenges. Foremost among these is the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an expanding sector without impeding social progress or economic recovery.

Transport is not an end in itself. It is a means to access jobs, markets, education, health services, cultural interaction and a range of other services and amenities that contribute to people leading healthy and fulfilling lives. However, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, inventories show a 6% growth in overall non-emissions trading system, ETS, emissions in 2016. Transport emissions grew by 4%. The progress made in reducing transport emissions by 25% between 2007 and 2012 is being eroded by significant transport demand growth, which, unfortunately, is not yet all being met in the most efficient ways. Transport emissions are only 6% below the key 2005 benchmark level. Furthermore, EPA projections indicate that, without intervention, transport emissions could rise, not fall, between 2020 and 2035 as a result of a growing population, improving economy and increasing employment, along with a traditional settlement pattern that engenders and is now underpinned by private car use.

With responsibility for 20% of Irish emissions and as the third largest emitting sector, transport will have to play its part in the national decarbonisation undertaking, requiring a step-change in how we travel and do business and the types of fuels and technologies we employ. These transport challenges are not unique to Ireland and are similarly faced by our EU and OECD partners. The transport decarbonisation pathway must begin with sustained investment in public transport and active travel to improve the quality and capacity of our networks and, where feasible, encourage a shift away from private car use. In parallel, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and secure an early and sustainable transition to zero and low-emission vehicles. Until these measures can produce meaningful results, Irish vehicle owners and users must have the most efficient vehicles and use them in the most carbon friendly ways. This requires working with many actors on a series of complementary policy measures requiring a cross-governmental approach.

The national climate change mitigation plan, which the Government agreed in 2017, represents the critical first step in communicating the longer-term national climate vision. Its role is to set out both the challenges to meeting Ireland's emissions-reduction targets and chart a clear and quantified path towards the long-term objective of transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy by 2050. The plan sets out 24 transport mitigation measures and 29 associated actions. These are wide-ranging and focus mainly on three themes, namely, modal shift, particularly to public transport in urban areas, the transition to alternatively fuelled vehicles and targeted behavioural change. Of course, the mitigation measures outlined in a 2017 plan cannot provide a complete roadmap to achieve full decarbonisation by 2050. Instead, they represent realistically where Ireland is now and how it can progress towards the ultimate goal of decarbonisation. The plan is a living document and is continually updated as research, policy and innovation generate additional cost-effective mitigation options.

Over the period to 2050, the national mitigation plan will be supported by a series of complementary Government policies and strategies that will support its decarbonisation objectives. Project Ireland 2040 is one such initiative and it will play a pivotal role in clearly establishing a national commitment to the right spatial planning and the capital investment needed to support projected population and employment growth in a sustainable manner. Through Project Ireland 2040, the Government seeks to reconcile mobility needs with climate obligations by committing to integrating land use and spatial planning to encourage fewer and shorter journeys and to support public transport, walking and cycling as real alternatives to the private car.

On investment in public and sustainable transport, settlement patterns strongly influence how people travel. The provision of sustainable transport options is only realistic when populations are located close to where people work, go to school, shop and socialise. Continued investment in public and sustainable transport is a cornerstone of the Government's transport sector mitigation response. Encouraging public transport use is central to national efforts to combat climate change, air pollution and other negative environmental and social impacts. Public transport must provide a realistic and sustainable alternative, where feasible, to reduce the dominance of the private car. The Government is committed to meeting increasing travel demand through more public transport capacity and by supporting cycling and walking. This policy has seen some success. In Dublin alone, more than two thirds of journeys to the city centre are now made on foot, by bicycle or by public transport, representing an increase of over 10% in the past six years.

In budget 2018, the process of investing wisely to increase capacity and enhance the range of alternatives to the car was stepped up. Project Ireland 2040 will further build upon this investment under the "Linking People and Places" announcement of investment of €8.6 billion specifically for public transport. From Metrolink to BusConnects and the Luas expansion to cycle lanes, the groundwork is being laid for an integrated, diverse, transport future. The aim is to link more people to more places while improving quality of life, easing congestion in our cities and doing our part in delivering a low-carbon society. Investment in the planned BusConnects project could deliver an increase in services of up to 27% and journey time savings of up to 50%. This would make capacity available and the switch to bus easier as will the availability if cleaner, lower-emitting buses. Budget 2018 committed over €100 million over four years to multi-annual cycling and walking programmes. Further significant investment planned under BusConnects in Dublin, could deliver 200 km plus of cycle tracks and lanes and pedestrian facilities.

The decisive shift away from carbon-intensive transport will be further underpinned by the electrification of more of the rail network and a commitment to stop buying diesel-only urban buses. By 2023, 500 buses should have been converted to low-emission vehicles. While public transport accounts for less than 5% of Ireland's overall transport emissions, we recognise that leadership from our public transport sector in improving fuel efficiency and climate impact is important. The national development plan commits that, from July 2019 onwards, Ireland will no longer buy diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet. Work is under way to preparing for the implementation of this policy. A green public transport fund has been established to support the take-up of low-carbon, energy efficient technologies within the public transport sector. The fund is supporting the piloting and take-up of energy-efficient and alternative fuel technologies for PSO operators within the bus fleet and SPSV sector and will be used to bridge the price differential between such technologies and conventionally-fuelled vehicles.

We will begin an up-to-date and comprehensive set of vehicle trials later this year to help further inform purchasing decisions for new buses over the coming years. We will test, on Dublin and Cork bus routes, a range of technologies including full electric, diesel-electric hybrids and compressed natural gas. The trials will consider CO2 emissions, air quality impacts, and contribution potential towards renewable energy targets, as well as fuelling and infrastructure costs.

To mention the transition to alternative fuels, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and securing an early transition to zero and low-emission vehicles is integral to our transport mitigation efforts and offers one of the most cost-effective and feasible pathways to meeting our carbon mitigation and air pollution objectives. This is particularly important outside urban areas where dependence on private cars is strongest and where public transport systems and active travel offer less potential for effectively addressing travel needs.

Fossil fuel use has become deeply embedded into our driving culture and we are almost entirely dependent on imported oil. Of the total vehicle fleet, over 45% of vehicles use petrol while nearly 54% operate on diesel, meaning less than 1% of vehicles are alternatively fuelled at present. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and switching to greener alternatives will be essential if we are to successfully decarbonise the sector but the profile of our current fleet reflects the scale of change required.

Project Ireland 2040 earmarks investments to support the transition to zero emission capable cars, underpinning a target of half a million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030. The groundwork for this ambitious target was laid in Ireland’s national policy framework on alternative fuels infrastructure for transport published in 2017. It represented an important step in communicating the longer-term national vision for decarbonising transport by 2050 and set out our ambition that, by 2030, all new cars and vans sold in Ireland will be zero-emissions capable.

Colleagues in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment are working to ensure that access to refuelling or recharging infrastructure does not act as a barrier to the take-up of alternatively fuelled vehicles. The framework sets minimum levels of provision of refuelling infrastructure and common technical standards to permit interoperability. All this provides a supportive, enabling environment for suppliers and consumers and increased confidence and reassurance in our national commitment to the emerging alternative fuel-technology market.

The task force on low emitting vehicles, established on foot of A Programme for Partnership Government commitment, is considering in a thorough, pragmatic and targeted manner the range of measures and options available to the Government to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon technologies, especially electric vehicles. The task force is jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and its membership includes the key relevant Departments and bodies.

Its work was divided into two phases with the first phase focusing on electric vehicles and its second phase now focusing on other alternative fuels. We consider that the task force is working effectively to assemble and consider the many factors influencing the scale and rate of transition to low emitting vehicles.

An attractive array of incentives has been put in place to encourage motorists to make the switch to electric and this is supported by an extensive recharging network in which we are again investing in upgrading and expanding. The pace of take-up is accelerating rapidly with more electric vehicles sold in the first four months of 2018 than in all of 2017. July and August saw the highest monthly sales of electric vehicles ever recorded in Ireland. The emissions reduction dividends from the switch to electric vehicles will take time to accrue but the pathway is now being clearly established.

This is the most climate significant transformation in transport, replacing conventionally fossil-fuelled vehicles on the roads. The initial investment required in alternative technologies and supporting infrastructure is admittedly costly but can help Ireland to adapt more quickly to this inevitable transition away from conventional fuels. Encouraging alternative fuels and technologies also actively sets Ireland on the right longer-term path towards full decarbonisation and cleaner air. Furthermore, these challenges also provide us with many opportunities for additional benefits to our overall health and living standards. New technologies and new fuels offer great potential and reasons to be optimistic.

On making the existing fleet less emitting, we are not ignoring the sizeable existing vehicle fleet and the key role played by efficiencies, eco-driving and increased biofuel use in delivering sustained transport emissions reductions. We continue to work hard at EU level, pushing strongly for better EU vehicle efficiency standards for cars, vans and heavy duty vehicles. This regulatory approach has yielded important efficiencies in the cars and vans sector already. Setting the next phase of targets for cars and vans and setting new targets for heavy duty vehicles will be a key component of Irish success in reducing vehicle emissions in the short to medium term, as our status as technology takers remains unchanged.

Biofuels have also played a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. The biofuels obligation scheme, BOS, comes under the aegis of our colleague Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. First introduced in 2010, the scheme requires suppliers of road transport fuel to ensure that biofuels represent a certain percentage of their national annual fuel sales. The level of obligation has been increased a number of times since its introduction and it is the declared intention to continue to increase it further on a phased basis to 2020. This will not only yield significant transport emissions dividends but also will bring us very close to the 2020 target for renewable energy in transport.

In terms of climate adaptation, as well as the measures to reduce transport emissions in line with EU and international obligations, there is also the challenge of building climate resilience within the transport sector. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to completely stop from today, global climate change would continue for many decades as a result of past emissions.

This poses two challenges, namely, the task of ensuring continued services and maintaining infrastructure for roads, rail, aviation, ports and buses, and the need to protect new assets by ensuring that today’s design specifications will adequately address tomorrow’s infrastructure needs. The first transport sectoral climate change adaptation plan, Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Transport Sector, was published in December 2016. The plan outlines climate research and analysis to guide our journey in future-proofing our vital road, rail, aviation, ports and bus services and infrastructure. Building on this knowledge base, work has started on our statutory adaptation plan for transport. The next step, in conjunction with other key infrastructure sectors, is the identification of critical national transport infrastructure. Important work has been under way across the sector, including detailed risk assessments of critical road and rail infrastructure developed by key transport stakeholders. In particular, I note Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change on Ireland’s Light Rail and National Road Network, as well as Irish Rail’s ongoing work developing the coastal railway vulnerability index. The Department continues to support our front-line actors - transport agencies and local authorities – to identify potential vulnerabilities within their operations and to consider how these can be addressed.

Adaptive capacity to climate change is also being considered as part of ongoing work on the Planning Land Use and Transport – Outlook 2040, PLUTO, assessment, which is updating the existing framework for transport investment published in 2015. Its work is considering how best adaptation requirements and measures should be reflected in the estimation of steady-state maintenance costs.

The committee has heard much evidence on the extent to which combatting climate change is that significant national challenge I mentioned at the outset. It is clear that climate measures and policies implemented today will have consequences for Ireland for decades to come. EPA projections for our 2030 prospects are sobering. Strong levels of investment for new emissions-efficient public transport capacity have been secured; investment in cycling and walking is being ramped up; efficiency standards in vehicles are improving every year; the range of incentives to encourage the transition to electric vehicles has been convincingly developed and the proportion of biofuels in petrol and diesel is increasing.

All these efforts are currently being cancelled out, however, by rising demand. Each transport trip now is less emitting than it was before. Nonetheless emissions are rising. Every year demand for trips to work, education, shopping, leisure and social interaction rise as population and employment grows and goods transport in support of exports, increased construction activity and higher agricultural output grows. The development of policy responses for transport needs to continue and go even further.

Decarbonising transport by 2050 will require a transformation, expected mainly to be achieved through the promotion, deployment and uptake of new technologies and alternative fuels. Alongside technology development, more and better lower carbon public transport, more use of active travel modes, a reduction in the need to travel and shorter journey distances must also play a role. Every sector needs to identify new measures and intensify those already yielding results and that analysis needs to start right away. The focus must be on early, co-ordinated action. Ireland’s response must involve a whole-of-Government approach, be comprehensive and be quickly identified.

Collectively, these actions will move us towards achieving the long-term vision of a low-carbon society. It will not be easy and it will require a fundamental societal transformation but with the substantial investment identified, and through the focus given by Project Ireland 2040, we can expect to see changes in the transport sector as it steps up its efforts to reduce its climate impact.

Achieving the necessary transport emissions mitigation will require individual consciousness and action by us all.

It also requires continuing close co-operation between my Department and other key Departments across the areas of transport, taxation, fuel policy, investment policy, air quality and spatial planning. My Department will continue to work closely with all the various actors and their various policy drivers as we seek to secure significant and sustainable national emission savings, and ultimately a largely decarbonised economy and society.


I thank Mr. Doyle.

I thank Mr. Doyle and welcome the witnesses from the Department and the National Transport Authority, NTA. More than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transport and the 4% growth in 2016 alone is alarming. We need to see a step change in this regard. We are not within an ass's roar of meeting our targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020. I highlighted in the Dáil Chamber six or seven years ago that we would hit this carbon cliff and now it is in front of us.

Mr. Doyle outlined the changes that are being made regarding electric vehicles. If one looks at the graphs that have been presented today, however, one will see there were 900 new purchases in 2017, and there were approximately 2,600 such vehicles in the State. That shows it is moving at a snail's pace. What is being done at Government level in the Department and across other Departments to accelerate that? There has been an increase in grants and incentives but the real issue is range anxiety. Does Mr. Doyle agree? What is being done to address that? We are way behind Norway and Holland, which is much smaller than Ireland but has 20 times more charging points than Ireland. In Norway some 20% of all new vehicles sold are electric vehicles, EVs. What is being done about those issues?

The issue of charging points is continually being side-stepped. The ESB erected and installed them, and it is runs the scheme for free, on which I commend it. The regulator has stated that cannot continue, however. Why not? What is the Department doing to address that issue, which is one of the key issues for getting more EVs onto the road?

On biogas, Mr. Doyle should outline the steps that will be taken now to address that huge 19% gap. We will hit a 1% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. What is being done to address the gap of almost 20%, which is the minimum we should meet? As the paper outlines, the way things are going our greenhouse gas emissions may actually increase for transport. Not only do we not want it to increase but we also have a big gap to fill and we must try to catch up.

What is being done to address the issue of alternative sources of fuel for heavy vehicles? In particular, Mr. Doyle might address one claim the Irish Road Haulage Association is making. I am not a scientist or engineer but it claims there is a new European hi-tech engine, which is up to the Euro 6 emissions standard. I understand that almost all the carbon emissions that would come out of the exhaust pipes of those trucks are captured because of the new technology which is installed in them. I do not know if the Department is aware of that but obviously it would be good if it can be done and we need to hear about it. Has an assessment done of that at Government level been done?

On the indigenous sources of biogas, what measures are being taken? We have a huge amount of agricultural waste. One plant is generating biogas, some of which could be used for compressed natural gas, CNG. What progress has been made and, more importantly, what steps will be taken to increase the use of CNG? I brought forward a paper on this last year to highlight CNG's importance and its potential both for the agricultural sector and for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Biofuels will require much land. A perfect storm seems to be coming here, in that we are increasing food production with Food Harvest 2020, increased output and so on but the use of land is almost maxed out and we have seen a fodder crisis. What is happening in respect of the land to grow this biofuel? There is much marginal land around where the three peat-fuelled power stations are located. Are the ESB, the Department and Bord na Móna in discussions and have they worked out a plan for the use of this land? Much of it is underused. There was a scheme for willow but it was not successful. That is fair enough, but what has been done in the meantime? Is everyone sitting on his or her hands and hoping it will go away or that it can be dealt with tomorrow? This issue should have been dealt with six or seven years ago at a minimum. What is being done about looking at that fairly marginal land in places such as north-west Offaly, Longford, other midland counties and further afield, where we could produce biomass rather than importing it from the United States? It is good news that the Bord na Móna project to do that is buried. It was nuts. The carbon footprint of hauling that biomass across the Atlantic would far exceed anything that oil or coal, the dirtiest of all fuels, would create.

On public transport, there is a question of integration, which catches the public's attention. What are we doing about having a system, as exists in other European countries, where one can book into a hotel and be given a ticket which takes one around the city for the next week? Why can we not have something like that here, or at least have one ticket that brings the ticket holder everywhere on all transport? I have heard these questions asked as far back as ten and 15 years ago. People will talk about Leap cards and so on but we still seem unable to get full integration, which a commuter coming in from the country in the morning, perhaps travelling 40 or 50 miles on a train, wants to be able to get. We need to make the system much simpler.

To have effective public transport hubs and fully integrated transport, we need more parking facilities. If people are travelling to the capital, to Galway or to wherever they want to go, and we want them to do the last 40 miles by train, what are we doing about putting parking in place? Portarlington, Portlaoise, Ballybrophy all have chronic parking problems. It is impossible to get parking anywhere near Portlaoise station in the morning. There are huge difficulties there, along with an extra cost. The commuter is charged €100 a week for the train ticket and then there is another charge every day to park the car. It is penal and we will not get people onto public transport if that is how we go about it. People will continue to use private cars and choke up the N7, N4, M1 and so on. I ask Mr. Doyle to address that.

I have written to the NTA about bus shelters, and it responded a couple of years ago. We need them. If one goes north of the Border, one will see they do not need to be elaborate or worth €30,000. They can be simple, basic shelters in rural areas. If people have to stand at a bus stop in Borris-in-Ossory, Castletown, Mountrath, Ballybrittas, Newtown or Ballylinan in Laois and wait for a bus to come on a wet morning, as trucks pass and spray them with rain and everything else, they will not do it. We must provide corridors where people can go to a local bus stop and stand there with a level of comfort and protection from rain.

Take the type of heavy showers that occur now. We can get a week's rain in five minutes. That is the way of things at present. People standing at bus stops are soaked through before they even get to work. Getting bus stops in place seems to be a big deal. I suggest that the Department let the local councils do it. Give them the money and let them get on with it. That is what happens in every other civilised country. The councils need to provide the bus shelters on the N7, N77, N78 and other routes throughout the State. Allow the local authorities to do that and trust them. Their membership comprises capable people who were elected by the public. There are also trained officials and, between them, they will work out with the local engineers where these bus stops should go. They do not need to be massive, just big enough to hold four or five people in rural areas and maybe somebody with a buggy or a walking frame. We should try to accommodate people with proper bus corridors in rural areas. They should have some level of comfort and be able to get on to a bus without being soaked through going to work or wherever.


I thank Deputy Stanley. There was a range of questions there. I will let in whoever wants to come in first. I call Mr. Doyle.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I will start. There were some questions at the start on range anxiety. There were also some questions touching on the work of the EV task force which Ms Behan, who is with me today, co-chairs. I will ask her to respond to some of those questions. There were also questions on alternative sources of fuel and we will touch on those as well. The questions on land and biofuels might be more appropriate for our sister Department, whose representatives were here last week. I am not sure I can be particularly helpful on those questions. We have Ms Graham, the chief executive of the National Transport Authority, here and she could respond fully to the last part of the question.

The Deputy is correct about range anxiety. It is a significant issue. We will see what happens with electric vehicle use. All projections suggest that where this creates the biggest impact is still a distance out. The year 2035 seems to be the point where the really fundamental and exciting change will happen. In the meantime, we have got to do everything possible to work with the uptake of the technology that is there and encourage it. There are a huge range of measures to assist with that. Range anxiety continues to be an issue but we are seeing improvements all of the time in the technology that is there. We are going to see some significant additional improvements in the next number of years. To date, many of the electric vehicles have been in the small car range and not suitable for the executive or somebody who has to work with long distances. There is no question that one of the biggest challenges in the transport space in Ireland in providing public transport in the context of climate change is our dispersed population. As a result, range anxiety continues to be a factor but we see improvements coming. We will see a step forward in the coming years. I might ask Ms Behan-----

I asked specifically about charging points. They are provided by the ESB. This question keeps getting sidestepped anytime I ask it. I do not know if anybody else here has got an answer. The charging points were provided by the ESB but it has been told by the regulator that they have to be offloaded. What is going to happen? What is the problem? Is there somebody from the European Commission standing over us with a big stick saying that the ESB cannot provide it? If it cannot do that, why is that the case? That is a simple and straightforward question. Mr. Doyle is Secretary General of the Department. Has he asked EU officials about this or has he asked the Minister what is the problem? This is a real problem. We have met the ESB in respect of this matter on a number of occasions and it has stated that wants it addressed. The ESB is happy enough to be involved in providing the infrastructure, so what exactly is preventing that from happening? Why can we not work out a method of funding it and why can the ESB not roll this out across the State? I want an answer to that question.


I will let Mr. Doyle back in on that.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I was leaving that question to Ms Behan. As I mentioned, she is co-chair of the EV task force and this is something that it has been working on.

Ms Laura Behan

Good afternoon. Deputy Stanley is right. The issue of the ESB owning the publicly-available charging network has been a hold-up to the development of that infrastructure for some time now.

Who has the problem with it?


We will let Ms Behan finish her answer and if Deputy Stanley needs clarification, I will let him back in.

Ms Laura Behan

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and its Minister have responsibility for the policy area of EV infrastructure. The ESB is its agency and the network of chargers is within the remit of that Department. I understand, however, from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment that the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, CRU, has this week published a new decision allowing for the transfer of the ownership of the charging network over to the ESB parent body. That will free up the ESB to invest in the publicly-available charging infrastructure. That particular logjam has been addressed this week.

Ms Laura Behan

That infrastructure undoubtedly needs to be expanded and more investment needs to be put in place. Although the ESB will be in a position to invest in it from its own resources, it is also fair to say that it will probably be seeking some assistance from the Government to help with the roll-out of the fast-charging network. That is much needed to alleviate the range anxiety about long distances that was mentioned. We hope that the charging of EVs will mostly take place in people's homes and that people will avail of the fast-charging network for helping them with long journeys. As the range of vehicles increases, all of the need for that infrastructure should lessen over time. It is, however, the responsibility of the Government to help with the take-up of EVs at this point in their development and also to invest in ensuring that some of that range anxiety can be alleviated.


Does Mr. Doyle or Ms Graham want to address any other questions?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Ms Behan might want to say more.

Ms Laura Behan

I will talk more about the low emission vehicle, LEV, task force. It was established by the Government between the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport because it was recognised that EVs are significant for us on the transport side in delivering the decarbonisation of transport. Many of the policy levers on EVs do not, however, reside with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The LEV task force was an attempt to bring all of the Government Departments with responsibilities in the area of regulation, infrastructure, pricing incentives, etc., around the same table. It is intended to tackle, in a concerted way, the wrinkles and difficulties that might exist around the system on the deployment of EVs. On the work the LEV task force has done, the first phase has focused on EVs. The Deputies are probably aware that an interim report was made by the LEV task force to the Government in advance of the budget last year and that a range of new incentives for the roll-out of EVs was announced then.

Some of them have been introduced by our Department, including the tolling incentive and the grant for taxis and hackneys. The benefit-in-kind incentive was introduced by the Minister for Finance and further supports have been put in place by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment for infrastructure, including home-charging grants. We have seen the results of that concerted action this year with the increased take-up of EVs. That was from a very low base and it had been very disappointing. We had a generous range of incentives in place to facilitate the take-up of EVs before we even set up the LEV task force. That did not seem to be enough to trigger a mass take-up because of people's concerns about the vehicles themselves and, most likely, range anxiety.

However, following the putting in place of a targeted range of incentives, we have seen a very significant response. In the first four months of this year, we saw more EVs bought in Ireland than in all of 2017. July and August have been record months for the purchase of EVs. We have 6,500 EVs on the road now. That does not sound like a lot but from where we were two or three years ago, it is a significant increase. That pattern is continuing. There has been a good response to the incentives that have been put in place.


There are low emission trucks as well.

Ms Laura Behan

In terms of the freight sector, Deputy Stanley referred to the Euro 6 standards in respect of HGVs. The Irish Road Haulage Association is correct that the Euro 6 standard for HGVs is an extraordinarily high standard with regard to air pollutants. It has certainly put in place a lot of technology to trap the most harmful particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, NOx - the nasty air quality pollutants that come from diesel vehicles generally. In that respect, the standards are a very significant development. They have been in place for a few years. However, what is probably most significant in terms of reducing carbon emissions from the HGV sector is the negotiations that are currently ongoing at EU level for the putting in place of a new set of regulations around CO2 in heavy-duty vehicles where the EU is seeking at the manufacturing stage for the first time to put in place a standard, which will require full information to be made available to all purchasers as to the carbon outcome of the truck, that is, however many grammes of carbon per kilometre the truck will emit. That monitoring is beginning next year. From then, the EU hopes to be able to secure a reduction every year with the setting of specific targets, for 2025 and 2030, that manufacturers will be required to produce vehicles that are less emitting. That is by far the most cost-effective way of ensuring that the road freight fleet starts on its decarbonisation journey.

The technologies in the HGV sector are not progressing at the same pace as they have been in the cars and vans sector - the lighter duty vehicles. The deployment of battery technology, in particular, is not suitable for the most part yet for HGVs although there are some promising pilots. Hydrogen is slow to develop also in that space.

For us, the Deputy is absolutely correct. One of the key alternative fuels that we need to start deploying within our freight fleet in the absence of those technologies happening is compressed natural gas, CNG, and using that then as a pathway to the introduction of biogas in the system. The European Union is supporting Gas Networks Ireland in deploying a range of refuelling infrastructure. We expect to have 14 CNG publicly-available refuelling stations open by 2020. Gas Networks Ireland is working with private fleets to allow for refuellers.

Phase 1 of the low emissions vehicle, LEV, task force looked at EVs but phase 2 is turning its attention to the gases - CNG, biogas and hydrogen - in terms of how we might work with our colleagues in the Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Housing, Planning and Local Government to ensure that the system examines fully what incentives might be needed, but also what impediments might be in place within the system, to allow us to move forward in the gaseous fuels space, as we have managed successfully to do in terms of EVs. That is where that is at present.


I will bring in Ms Graham next to answer the questions in relation to bus stops and parking at train stations.

Ms Anne Graham

I will give a quick response. There were three particular questions, one of which was on integration of fares. Leap card provides integration across all public transport. The only area where one cannot use a Leap card is in intercity rail travel but it is now available on any subsidised bus service, including Bus Éireann services. It is now available on all of those services - all city services, all commuter rail services.

We have put in place a visitor Leap card in Dublin only. It allows a ticket to be bought by a visitor to Ireland before he or she comes here that allows travel across all modes in Dublin.

In terms of transport hubs, we are looking at additional parking at train stations. We are working closely with Irish Rail to identify where we can put additional parking where it owns property and move on that as quickly as possible. Funding has been the constraint in that space.

In terms of payment for parking, one issue is that if one introduces free parking, one may find that the parking is used for activity other than taking train journeys. There will have to be some charge associated with parking at train stations.

On bus shelters, we are aware there is an under-provision of bus shelters right across the country, particularly in rural areas. The constraint was funding. We will be happy with the additional funding that we believe will come forward to increase our provision of bus shelters. We would be delighted if local authorities take on this activity, work through the planning and identify where the sites are. It would certainly speed up provision. We would be happy to work closely with local authorities to deliver more bus shelters.

As for the parking issue, if there is nothing on the car stating the owner has paid for parking or is permitted to park, it of course will allow some abuse of those car parks, particularly in the larger towns such as Portarlington and Portlaoise, but there is a simple solution. When one buys a ticket for the train, one should be given a small disk which one would put on the car. There are ways around the difficulty. Commuters who are heavily taxed paying €100 plus a week to get into whatever city by means of a 40-mile or 50-mile journey feel this is a significant additional imposition.

I have one point on the bus shelters. The problem is the process is too slow. I am aware that the National Transport Authority has supported some of them and has managed to get some in place, but the process is too slow. They are big and expensive. Something more basic will do. There are simpler models in other countries. North of the Border, there are simpler ones that can be erected. I am not saying the NTA should put up something shabby looking but small bus shelters can be put up. One can have a design for them for certain types of towns and villages, and very small ones for rural areas for perhaps four passengers to stand into etc. Where there is a bigger catchment, such as in Mountrath, one could have slightly bigger ones. That is all I would say in this regard.


On the issue of parking at train stations, would it be possible to look at that idea of an integrated ticket whereby one buys a train ticket that includes parking?

Ms Anne Graham

We can have a look at that. There is an integrated one for some of the annual passes, as far as I am aware, where a commuter can buy an annual parking ticket as well at a reduced rate. We will take a further look at it.


That is a simple way of dealing with the issue. It is something that should be looked at to encourage people to use public transport and not abuse, as Ms Graham was saying, the parking. I will move on to Deputy Corcoran Kennedy, who has ten minutes.

I thank the invited speakers for their attendance here this afternoon. How realistic do they believe is the Government's aim of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%. Can they achieve it?


Do the witnesses want to come in on that? It can be an over-and-back session, if that is okay, for the ten minutes.

Mr. Graham Doyle

That would be fine.

That is the 2050 target. As we look at the elements of meeting the target, there are a couple of components. There is the modal shift piece, which we have talked about a little bit, technology and standards, about which we have talked a little bit, the alternative fuels piece and the work with biofuels that has made a significant difference and behavioural change in terms of how we travel, how we drive if we drive and, most importantly in that space, whether we can replace the need to drive with other modes of transport.

It is clear that 78% of emissions in the transport sector are in the space of the private car and freight.

Within that timeframe, we can see the significant technology changes that are scheduled and in that sense I think it is realistic. The difficulty and challenge we are finding is in meeting the targets in the intervening period. While we know those technologies are coming and that the longer-term vision is achievable and feasible, we will continue to be obliged to work through the challenges of milestones in the meantime. In many ways, that will be the hardest part.

On public transport, what are the plans to transition trains and buses to biofuels or electricity and the timelines for that?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Public transport contributes less than 5% of overall emissions. Nevertheless, it is important that we use the public transport that we control to show leadership, and it is an area in which we can have a direct impact.

We have committed not to buy any more diesel-only buses by mid-2019. That is significant. We are now looking at trials as to how we get there. They will begin shortly, notably in Dublin and Cork. I will ask Ms Graham to speak about some of the plans for trains and electrification of the network.

Ms Anne Graham

Part of the national development plan allows for investment in the DART expansion programme, which deals with the commuter rail lines and a move towards electrifying all of them, to Drogheda, Maynooth and Celbridge. In the interim, we will purchase a fleet that can run either hybrid diesel or diesel-electric or a hybrid diesel battery. That will build up our fleet and capacity on the rail lines in the interim in order that when electrification is in place, the fleet units can operate as electric vehicles. Our focus is on looking at the type of fleet available and purchasing a hybrid fleet to build up capacity and follow on with the electrification of those lines.

Has the proposed second runway for Dublin Airport been assessed for its potential impact on climate?

Mr. Graham Doyle

I think the answer is yes, in terms of the planning process and the need to engage in various studies as part of that. I can probably send the Deputy on more detail on that if that would be helpful.


If Mr. Doyle could send that to the committee for circulation it would be great.

Mr. Doyle referred to the percentage of emissions that comes from privately-owned cars and encouraging people from getting away from diesel and petrol. Diesel is widely used around the country, particularly outside urban areas. For those who do make the transition, there is the matter of charging units. On long journeys, many people stop off at motorway points. How will it be managed whereby instead of people stopping for diesel or petrol that they call in to charge their car? I recently noticed a charging unit. How will this be managed among companies? The Department is obviously examining that.

Mr. Graham Doyle

That is part of the work of the electric vehicle task force so I will ask Ms Behan to respond.

Ms Laura Behan

There are a number of fast-charging units which have been made available by ESB ecars, under the existing 900 publicly-available electric vehicle charge points in Ireland. The Deputy is correct. There are a number of fast chargers, as well as slow chargers, unfortunately, available at motorway service stops. Clearly, we will have to invest more in the fast-charging network. ESB indicated last week that it might make an application to the Government's climate fund for assistance to roll out a new fast-charging network. As the climate fund closed for applications on Monday, we are hopeful that this may be the case.

Very good. The witnesses spoke of the coming challenges of freight and so on. Are there plans for promoting ecodriving techniques and reducing speeds on motorways as a means of energy saving?

Ms Laura Behan

Ecodriving has mostly been tackled within larger fleets under Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, programmes as part of an overall energy efficiency approach. Our public transport companies - Dublin Bus, Irish Rail or whatever - have undertaken ecodriver training for their drivers and technologies are deployed in the infrastructure to secure the most efficient driving. We have examined how we might scale this up and are considering behavioural economics around private cars and the potential to use ecodriving by drivers to manage their own fuel consumption. That is a difficult area. A study is under way, which we are co-funding with the Environmental Protection Agency, to examine how we might deploy ecodriving in the most efficient and most effective way to reach the target audience. One can spend a great deal of money on ecodriving programmes while their benefits are dissipated within a short timeframe as the training that people have undergone slips. It is difficult to get right on a sustained basis. We hope the study, which is looking at the Irish context specifically and HGV drivers in particular, will provide useful information for a programme of scale that we can deploy nationally.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I was very impressed with the work that Dublin Bus did some time ago on ecodriving. I cannot remember the percentages but they were really impressive. Ms Behan mentioned the concern that people revert to their old behaviour over time and that there is a challenge in sustaining it. I will return to Dublin Bus and see how that has fared over time, but it was very impressive to start.

As this committee's meetings have gone on, we have realised there must be a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach in this regard. What kind of engagement does the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have with other Departments? Is it a project-basis engagement or is it consistent?

Mr. Graham Doyle

There is consistency around this. A great deal of cross-Government work is undertaken on a range of issues. I seem to spend a great deal of my time attending cross-Government meetings, which is excellent because it gives us the opportunity to directly work with our colleagues where issues cross over. There is no question but that climate change is now on the top of people's tongues in a way that was not the case some years ago. We see that co-operation quite regularly. A good structure is in place. Bringing climate change directly under a particular Department was a significant change. There is a Cabinet committee and a senior officials group. There are climate change units within various Departments. I can see the work and interaction being more positive than ever.

Does the Department have a communications strategy to effectively reach citizens, haulage companies or whatever to encourage them?

We may, for example, want people who drive diesel cars to change to electric vehicles. Is there a communications plan to reach people sitting at home in the evening or listening to the radio as they drive around?

Mr. Graham Doyle

It is on a measure-by-measure basis. With electric vehicles for example, it is a fair point. Perhaps we should look at an overall communications strategy in this space. It is something we will certainly take away and examine.

I will try to keep this brief. With regard to electric vehicles, it was mentioned that 6,500 are being used as a result of concerted action. I respectfully disagree. We are really going at a snail's pace compared with some other countries. What are the Department's ideas for accelerating progress? In Norway, for example, half of all cars sold last year were electric and over half this year will be electric. We are way behind what other countries are doing in this area. Mr. Doyle stated that the real action will happen around 2035, which demonstrates a lack of ambition in trying to accelerate progress. We need much greater ambition and to try to match leading countries in Europe and elsewhere on this. Why should we not replicate what Norway has done, for example?

Deputy Corcoran Kennedy touched on how this can be communicated. It will happen through certain incentives. Norway piloted a tolling model, with reduced or free tolling for electric vehicles. Could we do something in this regard for a short period to try to drive change? I know there are contracts but we must really accelerate policy actions. I know the Department is trying to drive policy in the area but it is much too slow. We need more ideas and perhaps the witnesses can enlighten us on what other European countries are doing. We have the example of Norway. What can we do with the tax base to really promote electric vehicles? As has been mentioned, 20% of greenhouse gas emissions are transport-related and half of that comes from private cars. If we could replicate what Norway - an oil-producing country - can do in the area of electric vehicles, we could massively reduce our carbon footprint very quickly. We need innovative solutions in respect of tax in order that people can engage in a behavioural change. Our actions thus far do not match those of other countries.

The next issue is the replacement of our bus and rail fleet. Will the witnesses indicate when existing stock will be replaced in order to reduce our carbon footprint? What capital replacement model is in place and how will it affect carbon emissions? There was mention of park-and-ride facilities and trying to encourage commuters to use trains. A new charging system has been implemented at Dunboyne station, for example, and where there used to be many cars parked, there are now none as a result of the prohibitive model being used. This completely contradicts the climate change approach. As Deputy Stanley mentioned, there must be a different model. This may include, for example, integrated ticketing and parking facilities. The current charging system for parking is reducing the number of people who use commuter trains. In addition, planning applications such as the example of the new Broombridge Luas station, which is integrated with the trains, were progressed without any parking facilities. There will be electrification of the line through that station. There is to be another new train station at Pelletstown, with very little provision for parking and, therefore, a massively negative impact on people who live around those areas. We are talking about park-and-ride facilities but the desired impact on the ground in suburban Dublin does not follow. The charging model does not help potential or existing commuters or people who want to live in residential areas where train stations are being developed. I would like to hear more about actual park-and-ride facilities and what is being done in that regard. Currently, tenders are being awarded to private clampers who are punishing people who want to commute. We need a much more positive model of park-and-ride facilities to help commuters.

There have been good changes involving integrated ticketing. The Netherlands, for example, has a cashless model involving e-cards and many public services should transition to that. What is being done to bring about a cashless payment system? BusConnects is dotted throughout this and it is important that the Department and the NTA are cognisant of the democratic decision of Dáil Éireann regarding BusConnects and the rejection of the current proposal, with a request for the reversal of many changes to routes. There has been much spin, including the claim of a 27% increase in services. In suburban areas in north and south Dublin, people will see the opposite happening, with many services being very much adversely affected. These changes are being rejected by people living in those areas. What were the terms of reference in respect of BusConnects? What was the advertising spend on BusConnects specifically? There seems to be a very direct and aggressive campaign to fool people in suburban Dublin about what the people involved want the population to believe. They can read the maps in order to see the real impact. What is being done to radically change BusConnects?

Ms Anne Graham

To clarify, we do not set the charges for parking at rail stations. That is a matter for Irish Rail. We look with the company at the policy of charging in stations but it is Irish Rail land and it sets the charges for car parking. It is Irish Rail's responsibility to deal with clamping and the companies which carry that out.

The NTA sets the overall policy with regard to rail procurement and everything else. Surely it has a policy direction for Irish Rail. When we speak to representatives from CIÉ, they say that the NTA is the boss.

Ms Anne Graham

We do not own the rail stations, they are owned by CIÉ.

So the NTA has no responsibility for charging.

Ms Anne Graham

The charges are set by Irish Rail but we engage with the company because there is an impact on how people use public transport.

Does the NTA have a view on the matter?

Ms Anne Graham

We can look at the numbers of passengers using Irish Rail. The growth on all public transport, including Irish Rail, is significant. Currently, it does not seem car park charges are having an impact on the number of people using rail in commuter areas.

As the chief executive of the NTA, does Ms Graham support the charging at train stations?

Ms Anne Graham

If we want to encourage people to use public transport, we should always look at charges, as it is a factor that has an impact on how people use public transport. We would like public transport to be free but we are not in that space and charges must be associated with public transport in order to pay for that transport provided by the State.

What about new train stations being developed?

Ms Anne Graham

I will answer those questions. The Deputy asked about the stations at Pelletstown and Broombridge. They are located very close to the city centre in what would be considered suburban Dublin. We do not encourage people to drive to stations located quite close to or within the city centre. We are trying to encourage people to walk, cycle and use other public transport to get to those stations. As part of trying to encourage more people to use sustainable transport, one action would be to not provide parking at stations located in the city region. Interchange is brought about by encouraging people to walk, cycle and use other public transport to get to train stations.

What about the residential areas adversely affected as a result of the NTA's decision to forget about providing parking adjacent to those stations? Does the authority engage with the people living in those communities?

Ms Anne Graham

We try to encourage the users of public transport not to use cars to travel if they can or if there is an alternative available.

At the locations in question - Pelletstown, in the future, and Broombridge - there are other means of getting to the railway station.

In terms of integrated ticketing, we are looking at the next generation of the Leap card, which we are calling next generation ticketing. This will be account based ticketing, which will move towards cashless, account based payments using a bank card and other means of payment for public transport. We have started the process and one part of the strategy involves the use of mobile phones to book certain tickets. We have a procurement process under way in regard to that. We will put in place validators to enable the use of bank card payment for public transport. I do not have a timeline for that but we want to move on that as quickly as possible.

We believe we presented the benefits of BusConnects to the public. We were not being disingenuous in saying there would be a 20% increase in services across the region. This figure was very carefully calculated and that was what was presented to the public. We also commented on the impacts of the network proposal. It proposed additional interchange and orbital services, as well as additional services. However, it also proposed changes associated with the current network. We have asked members of the public whether they are prepared to make changes to the network in order to achieve the type of service improvements we believe would come from the BusConnects network.

I do not have the full advertising spend for BusConnects but I can certainly make that available to the committee. In terms of the network and bus corridors, BusConnects will bring improved and more efficient public transport, which will reduce public transport carbon emissions.


I ask Ms Laura Behan to respond to the questions on electric transport.

Mr. Graham Doyle

If I may, I will first respond to a couple of points made by Deputy Jack Chambers because they led to the questions on electric vehicles which Ms Behan will answer. I mentioned the year 2035, which is an internationally recognised timeframe and not one that I have set. I have made clear we are very anxious to do all we can in the intervening period to reach the objective faster. I want to be clear about that.

Deputy Chambers mentioned tolling in Norway. We already have such a scheme in place already. He also made a good point about what could be done to incentivise the use of electric vehicles using the tax base in terms, if we go back to the way motor taxation was calculated some time ago, it resulted in a significant behavioural shift. These days, we have large numbers of diesel cars and a different problem from CO2 in terms of air quality. We can see the power of the diesel incentive so the Deputy's point is well made. Ms Behan will answer the other questions.

Ms Laura Behan

Deputy Chambers is absolutely correct. We do not in any way pretend that 6,500 electric vehicles on the road is something to celebrate with alacrity. However, this year demand for electric vehicles in the Irish market shot up in response to the incentives that were put in place in the budget last year. The constraint on the purchasing of electric vehicles this year has been the lack of availability of stock. Car dealers cannot get the stock in quickly enough to meet demand for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids this year. This is a response to a significant step-up in demand, which we find encouraging. Part of the reason the stock is not available to us has been the success of electric vehicles in Norway, which is taking up a sizeable amount of electric vehicle output in the European Union. We wish we could emulate the range of incentives that have been put in place in Norway but the cost of those is running at more than €1 billion already. Despite the range of incredibly generous incentives that have been put in place at a very sizeable cost, only 50% of new vehicles being purchased in Norway are electric vehicles. To put in context the kinds of incentives we would have to put in place to achieve what Norway has achieved on electric vehicles, Mr. Doyle mentioned that we introduced a tolling incentive on 1 July 2018. This provides for a 50% reduction at almost every toll in the country for a full battery electric vehicle and a 25% reduction for plug-in hybrids. A driver with an electric vehicle toll tag will pay half tolls. We are delighted with that measure and we hope it is contributing in some part to the increase in demand for electric vehicles.

Deputy Chambers also referred to cashless transport in the context of electric vehicles. It is worthwhile pointing out that all the electricity to fuel electric vehicles from the public recharging network is currently free. As such, it is totally cashless already.

I welcome the witnesses. Having listened to the presentations, it is very clear the difficulties the National Transport Authority has, as an independent body, in trying to co-ordinate the issues. I have considerable understanding of what Ms Behan has to do to try to pull all sides together to get a coherent policy framework in place. I have raised the same issues with officials from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment who are not in charge of all the policy elements. There is no doubt that individual Departments will have their own concerns, issues and responsibilities. What I would like to hear from Mr. Doyle is what delineation can be made and what movement can be made in terms of responsibility around certain areas. It seems somewhat bizarre that because the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has responsibility for the generation of electricity, the network or charging points should necessarily reside in that Department. If that was a function of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Doyle could possibly deploy some policies that would ensure the charging network was built out more quickly to other areas.

I concur with Deputy Stanley because a number of constituents who have made the shift to electric vehicles have informed me their next vehicle purchase will be a hybrid. They are moving backwards because fast charging points are not available and they are not being policed or managed to the extent that they should be, which means other people park in them. Moreover, they have also been broken on occasion. When I question the ESB and others, their response is that the charging network is adequate for the number of electric vehicles we have and the number anticipated. If we are trying to overcome the range anxiety issue, we have to front-load charging facilities to the extent that people become sick of seeing them around the place and they become ubiquitous. This will result in a consciousness among the public that they will not be caught out without access to a power source.

We met representatives of the automotive sector. They are introducing new electric vehicles with improved range and the car class issue is also being addressed. At some point, we will reach a tipping point, where there will be a significant demand and I am concerned that the network of charging points will not adequate to meet it. The incentives are good, but could be better. Others have outlined what has happened in Norway and we have put forward policy proposals in that regard in the past.

It is imperative that we do something big to give confidence to consumers that we will ensure they have access to a charging network. Charging it home will not be an issue. The concern is that people will be caught out somewhere else.

There is an issue around train stations and Luas stations. There should be much better parking options at the Red Cow for those of us who travel from the country to the city. One can spend an hour pumping diesel fumes in traffic for the five or six miles from the N7 to the city. If parking was available at the Red Cow, it would make a significant contribution towards decluttering the city. I take the point that different places are owned by different entities. Mr. Doyle should tell us what kind of places his Department would like control of. We can act together to reorientate that approach.

There are issues around the charging and parking policies of Iarnród Éireann. A sign in the carpark of Limerick railway station warns drivers that they are responsible for their vehicle at night. It is really saying that people would be better off not parking in the station carpark overnight because there are certain blind spots and there have been break-ins. I can understand that from the point of view of Iarnród Éireann. The board and CEO of the company have many issues to address, and parking falls well down the line in terms of its contribution to climate change. One of the Departments must take responsibility, and I do not just mean responsibility for co-ordination.

Mr. Doyle said that diesel-only purchases will end in 2019. I have made the point at other committees about the decision to purchase 110 buses last year. That has been done and we cannot go back on it. There is no point in hauling Mr. Doyle over the coals about it, but we should agree that, from today onwards, the bus companies should use what they have until an alternative can be sourced. They should not purchase anything beyond today. This is not just about the electricity network. We should also consider compressed natural gas. It will be a long time before the industry invests in that.

There has been talk about hydrogen in certain areas, particularly its potential use for heavy goods vehicles. It would be expensive to roll out technology like that, but we should decide to do that in any case. Perhaps it would not be used for ten or 15 years, and perhaps technology would improve and that approach will be made redundant. If it helps in the move towards less polluting approaches to transport, we should do it.


On Deputy Dooley's question on buses, can the witness give us a price differential between the cost of a diesel bus and a non-diesel, lower emission bus? It would help us to understand the costs involved and might explain why diesel buses were purchased in the recent past.

Mr. Graham Doyle

There are many players involved on a core issue such as climate change. In answer to Deputy Corcoran Kennedy, I said that co-ordination across Government has improved on all issues. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has a very close working relationship with the NTA. The low emissions vehicle, LEV, task force was a good example of that. We were very anxious to try to find a structure that would allow us to work through those co-ordination issues, and we worked with our colleagues to get the task force up and running. It has made a significant difference and there is very constructive engagement now. We have spoken about parking at train stations, and I know that the issue of charging for carparking where electric vehicles are charging has come up in the local authorities. We have started to look at how that can be addressed by bringing the local authorities in under one of the work streams in the LEV task force. That is significant.

I am interested in the point raised about how some people are moving back to hybrid vehicles from electric vehicles. Ms Behan might address that issue further.

Deputy Mary Butler took the Chair.

Mr. Graham Doyle

Ms Graham will provide a more up-to-date costing on buses. The challenge and choice we have had in recent years, as the Chair mentioned, has been whether we want to buy one efficiently fuelled bus and get one busload of people out of their cars, or whether we should buy three buses and get three busloads of people out of their cars. That has been the challenge to date. Some of that is now balancing out. The buses bought recently and now are at the existing Euro-6 standard, which is a major improvement on some of the buses in the fleet. That is an important point.

Ms Behan will deal with some of the points raised about electric vehicles and Ms Graham will discuss park-and-ride facilities. There will be a significant investment over the next three years in public transport, amounting to €2.6 billion and rising to €8.6 billion over the course of the national development plan. Part of the funding that goes through the NTA into public transport will be deployed for park-and-ride facilities. Ms Graham will address that issue as well.

Ms Laura Behan

In terms of the recharging infrastructure, my colleagues from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment chaired the infrastructure and pricing working group under the LEV task force. A significant amount of work was undertaken within that working group to identify demand and the stretches of road where we feel the deployment of fast-charging infrastructure is most likely to be needed. We worked closely on that with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI. I believe there will be a step-change in the electric vehicle, EV, recharging infrastructure provision in the next year as the climate fund is deployed and ESB investment is freed up. I hope we will see significant progress on that over the next year.

That is good to hear, and I encourage the witnesses to advertise what is being done in this regard. Perhaps the local authorities will undertake advertising to that end. Places like Ennis, Ennistymon and Scariff have no fast-charging points and while people in those areas may never need them, they get range anxiety. In order to attract the early adopters perhaps it is worth overinvesting in some of the infrastructure. I am not suggesting that money should be spent recklessly. Safeguards are put in to protect people, and the greater the number of people who adopt electric vehicle technology, the more popular this mode of transport will become. People will understand that one charge, done at home, will be more than adequate for most of their activity. There are some who will need more charge, however. Tesla has rolled out some technology on the M8 and M7, and I am sure it has done the same on other roads. I am sure the NTA has been involved in that very welcome development. While charging points can be introduced on the major urban networks, people always look to the final half mile, close to home.

Ms Laura Behan

The geographical coverage is important. We do not want any place to be left behind.

We know it does not matter what is invested in the national primary routes.

Politically, everybody is concerned about the last half mile on the way home. It is the people in the villages and county towns who need to be reassured because that is where the bulk of the activity takes place. It is the best use of electric vehicles involving people doing relatively short runs to places such as schools.

Ms Laura Behan

Representatives from the SEAI were here last week and, in light of all the other matters arising, probably did not get an opportunity to discuss the work the organisation is doing in the public awareness space relating to electric vehicles. There is a very strong public awareness campaign generated by the SEAI that is now being rolled out, particularly across social media. There is an app that will show the availability of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and whether it is free. A great deal of work is happening in that area and the SEAI is looking to enhance that constantly. We note that it is incredibly important.

I thank Ms Behan for her reply. I appreciate her input.

Ms Anne Graham

To answer Deputy Dooley's, we take responsibility for strategic park-and-ride facilities and, certainly, the planning thereof. What I mean by that are locations on key rail, light rail and bus corridors. It is generally proposed to locate them around the M50, the kind of area where one encourages people to interchange to public transport in order to get into Dublin city. The situation in our regional cities is similar. We would take responsibility for the design and implementation of those. In some cases, it is about improving existing infrastructure like the Red Cow roundabout and some of the key rail stations.

In terms of bus purchases, Dublin Bus is purchasing nine test vehicles. It is in the process of purchasing that low-fleet emission fleet from three manufacturers and will run testing early next year. That will help us develop our procurement strategy for low-emission double-decker buses. We will start that procurement next year. As Mr. Doyle said, a deliberate decision was taken to purchase as many Euro 6 vehicles as possible because that provides other benefits for the city centre, particularly lower levels of noxious substances and much lower levels of particulates. We want to see those improvements as well and to have as young a fleet as possible operating in our city centres. We need to move forward to address carbon emissions. Dublin Bus will be starting the trial, which will inform our procurement strategy, next year.

We are also looking at where we can pilot the use of electric buses. In association with Bus Éireann, we are looking at a small electric pilot scheme in one of the regional towns. The exact location for the project has not yet been identified. By 2023, we hope to have 500 low-emission vehicles in the operation. This will comprise approximately one third of the public transport fleet.

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton resumed the Chair.


In the context of cost, it is approximately three times the cost of a low-emission-----

Mr. Graham Doyle

No, not any more. At a particular point, the issue was very much about getting more people out of their cars and onto buses. However, the differential has come way back down.

Ms Anne Graham

The differential for a double-decker bus would be in the order of 25% to 50% for a low-emission hybrid fleet.


More expensive.

Ms Anne Graham

Yes, more expensive. It would be double the cost of the electric fleet. We obviously have to go through procurement. As those manufacturers produce more, we would expect that differential to come down.

I thank our guests for both their public service and for attending this meeting. I will ramble around a few issues, some of which have been mentioned. I have a number of questions as well.

Missing from Mr. Doyle's statement were phrases such as "the Minister is determined", "the Minister wants", "the Minister is anxious" and "the Minister is ambitious for". There is no mention of the Minister, which might be par for the course as regards contributions. The point I am emphasising relates to the lack of political drive behind some of the things we are doing or need to do, the lack of overall urgency regarding the situation and the need, as mentioned by previous speakers, for a communications strategy.

I made a pretty detailed submission regarding BusConnects so I will not go into that matter now. One of the key questions that came up, which I mentioned in my submission and at public information meetings I held concerns the nature of the NTA. It is a pretty significant matter that needs to be addressed because the public does not know what the NTA is. We can operate in a bubble when it comes to matters such as climate change and assume that many things are happening while the public might be going off in a different direction. Electric vehicles are an example in this regard. We are all talking about electric vehicles but there is very little talk about hybrids. The witnesses have no figures on hybrids. Perhaps they have them and can circulate them to us. The public has made the decision that hybrid or a mixture of hybrid is the way it is going until range anxiety and other issues are resolved. So in a few years' time, we will end up with a situation where people will have hybrids or a mix of hybrid vehicles that they purchased in good faith. The position for them will be similar to those who purchased diesel cars in good faith until the science changed and who are now stuck with them. Something might happen in the budget. There is a need for a sustained national communications strategy. That would be one of the things for which I would be pushing. This needs to start and be continuously featured in people's lives. They know that climate change is here and there is a real appetite for discovering what they can do.

The public's experience of trying to do things by themselves regarding climate change has been mixed. I remember the first kerbside collections in Dublin, namely, the small green boxes the size of milk crates. They were not that big. We discovered after six or seven years of operation that almost all of the material the public had gone to the trouble of segregating ended up in landfill. It was a real case of brushing something under the carpet. The material had not gone to recycling plants at all. There are serious questions to be asked about that. How much of the material people recycle actually ends up being recycled? How much of it ends up in landfill? How much of the organic material we put out in brown bins in Dublin ends up in landfill because people do these things in good faith? When the science said something in 2008, people made a shift to vehicles with diesel engines in good faith. We continue to publish figures such as those in the pictorial graph relating to emissions. I am making the assumption that this is based on us accepting the figures motor manufacturers are giving us but it has been proven that they have been lying through their teeth. On the figures we are discussing in the context of reduced emissions, it was mentioned that 95.6% of vehicles are in AB emission bands. Is that according to vehicle handbooks or is it a scientifically proven fact? If it is based on what the manufacturers are telling us, we cannot trust it at all. These are small things. There is a need for a national communications strategy.

This committee must, in the context of the report it eventually compiles, must produce solid, concrete and tangible actions that the public can implement in their homes. We have heard some fascinating information.

I have not attended all the meetings but I have read the Official Report of proceedings and watched recordings of the committee's discussions on issues such as housing and insulation and on what is being done in other countries. They are the kind of things at which we need to look. The communications issue is the first one. It must be communicated that this needs to be done and that there is an urgency to it and to outline the things people can do in their personal lives.

The second issue relates to the political ambition behind all of this. The Department and the NTA can only do what they are directed to do. I have not heard of any great urgency propelling them forward in the work they do.

I will go through some of the issues raised, including the electric vehicles and the ESB. We should not ultimately leave it exclusively to the ESB. Perhaps in terms of public infrastructure it is important. In the United States, the much-maligned Tesla did a deal with Burger King or Dunkin' Donuts so that charging points are located at a number of their outlets. I think Dundrum town centre has a number of charging points. I what was said about the hope that people might charge their vehicles at home. Let us look at it in terms of the countries that are leading on this. What has their experience been? Do people predominantly charge at home? If that is the case then it is good to follow that. It would be useful to have charging points at hospitals, workplaces, shopping centres and tax offices so people do not have to sit in their cars waiting for them to charge but can actively do something.

The witnesses mentioned that transport accounts for 20% of our emissions. Aviation accounts for 20% of that total and the figure for aviation emissions is increasing. It looks as if the other transport sectors may contract over time, if we are lucky and if we achieve all the targets and introduce electric cars, buses, public transport and, particularly, the infrastructure relating to BusConnects, of which I am a supporter. It should come first. This relates to what Deputy Corcoran Kennedy said about the third runway at Dublin Airport. It looks like aviation, in the Irish context, is just going to grow and grow and there does not seem to be any alternative to aviation fuels. Aviation has not been mentioned specifically but it looks as if it will be a growing factor.


Who would like to contribute first?

Mr. Graham Doyle

I will address a number of those points and Ms Behan will deal with the question on the electric vehicle charging points.

In the context of the Minister not being mentioned in my statement, the committee made a point of inviting a series of Secretaries General to come before it over a number of weeks. In writing our statement, we were clear we were invited here as the Department. I suspect this is the reason we took that approach. The Minister has spoken on this point at committees in the past. Last week, he was involved in a significant engagement on climate change along with the Taoiseach. It is something he raises with us regularly as we work through the public transport issue, which is very much about the really important economic impact that providing the right type of public transport and reducing congestion will have. That investment affects the climate change and economic performance issues. The Minister is of a firm mind on that.

I am sure I wrote down all of the questions. There was a good point made about the charging of electric cars as people go about their business. That is an important point and it is a matter the task force on electric vehicles has been seeking to address. I will bring Ms Behan in on that point.

Ms Laura Behan

There were a number of issues regarding electric cars. The Deputy asked about the ratio between battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In Ireland, we have an unusual profile in that regard. Most of our European counterparts have seen more plug-in hybrid vehicles sold than full-battery electric vehicles. In Ireland ,our ratio was previously 3:1. This year, for the first time, it has moved to 2:1. As Deputy Dooley stated, there has been some slippage to the plug-in hybrid space as opposed to the full-battery electric vehicle. In Ireland, the range is increasing significantly for full-battery electric vehicles. Journey distances in Ireland will be conducive to the range that will be available in battery electric vehicles. It is currently available in some and the range coming on stream over the next year or two will mean that we, unlike our European counterparts, we will probably have a very strong take-up of full-battery electric vehicles here.

The Deputy mentioned the emissions testing regimes that have been put in place in order to give vehicles their certification around climate emissions. When a vehicle is sold it is sold with a particular certificate indicating its climate performance based on a test. There were certainly some very well publicised cases on the accuracy or otherwise of those tests. Those particular cases related to the manipulation of air quality emissions in the testing as opposed to climate emissions. It is undoubtedly the case, however, that in a laboratory setting, where these types of tests are undertaken, the conditions that are deployed in the tests are not the same as real-world driving emissions. We assume there is a certain differential between the certificate base of efficiency or carbon output per kilometre in laboratory testing and real world testing. Across Europe, we have been attempting to deal with that through the introduction of a new testing regime which is a much longer test cycle over a variety of different modes which try to replicate urban driving or long distance driving over a much longer period. The outcomes from that new series of tests will start to be seen on vehicle certificates from next year. They will be introduced from 1 January 2019 and will be fully implemented by 1 January 2020 so all new cars coming on stream over the next couple of years will have their emissions testing outcomes based on a much more rigorous testing model. We expect to see some differences arising from it but we will have a much more accurate representation of the carbon emissions per kilometre.

On the point about the private charging points, which we call destination charging, it is undoubtedly the case that there are a large number of them already. A large number of businesses, shopping centres, hotels and supermarkets make charge points available to their customers in the same way as they make Wi-Fi available and so on. It is very welcome. As the number of electric vehicles in the market increases, we expect that to increase. There is an accelerated capital allowance available for businesses that wish to invest in the provision of those.

Are they mapped?

Ms Laura Behan

They will be mapped shortly as the SEAI takes over the mapping of all the electric vehicle charge points. The SEAI is doing that on behalf of the Government in order to draw together all the information on where all electric vehicle charge points are located, not just the public ESB ones. They will form part of that mapping by the SEAI. I am not sure when that will come on stream but I can make it available to the committee.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I drew a blank on the Deputy's aviation question before I brought Ms Behan in. In an international context, the trading system is there and the work on carbon offsetting at the ICAO is particularly relevant to that. Emissions from aviation are being examined at that level internationally and Ireland is taking part in that process.

There is a pilot programme from 2021 that we are signed up to, along with the other members of the European Civil Aviation Conference. In an Irish context, as well as under the national aviation policy, we also have an informal implementation group consisting of ourselves, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the EPA and the Irish Aviation Authority, that is collaborating on the implementation of the pieces that are working through the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO.

We see technology improving in the aviation space and there is an ongoing programme.

Does Mr. Doyle mean improvements in emissions?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Yes, in terms of emissions. There are ongoing programmes of fleet replacement in the Irish-registered airlines. There is other work being done on air traffic management and operational systems as to how much time aircraft spend lingering on the ground burning fuel and all of that type of work. Again, a variety of measures are being looked at in that space.

I am a member of the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, which had a meeting with the Irish Road Haulage Association and we discussed how no other fuel matches the torque provided by diesel and nothing has yet been invented to replace diesel. I noticed that the NTA mentioned the mix of hybrids, electric or diesel hybrid vehicles, etc. On the last occasion the NTA was here, albeit in a different context, it was stated that no electric engine as yet can handle the workload of Dublin Bus whereby the fleet of buses travel to and fro for 15 or 16 hours a day. How confident is the NTA that we will get to a point whereby the fleet is replaced or replenished for genuine climate change reasons, as opposed to political reasons, that will reap rewards and benefits?

Ms Anne Graham

I am very confident. Yes, we spoke about the fleet, particularly the double-decker fleet and whether one can achieve a fully electric double-decker fleet and get the range in terms of battery charging mechanisms. I am confident that the development of batteries will be such that we will get to have in place fully electric double-decker vehicles at some point but our initial move is to have a hybrid fleet, rather than a fully electric one. In our tests of a fully electric fleet, it would be a single-decker fleet that we would be looking to test initially with Bus Éireann and in smaller towns, I would imagine. That fleet is already available.

Anyone tuning into this broadcast would be left thinking that in order to tackle climate change, one would need an electric vehicle, EV, because most of this conversation has been about electric vehicles. How are we really going to tackle the fact that 20% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by transport? We will do so by moving into the public transport space and away from individuals using private cars.

I thank the witnesses for their presentations and have a number of questions for them. They did not mention the departmental policy called Smarter Travel - A New Transport Policy for Ireland 2009-2020. I also did not hear mention of the national cycling policy framework. Is the Department being guided by its own policies for smarter travel and the national cycling policy framework to achieve emission savings?

The 2009 report was fairly shocking because one could see, in 2009, that we should have been shifting towards sustainable forms of travel for public transport. We have not moved in that direction and traffic congestion is worse than ever. I know because I try to travel by train but I travel from Tramore to Leinster House in Dublin. Unfortunately, a journey that should last just two hours takes four hours due to congestion and road traffic, which is highly frustrating.

Are there policies in place to encourage the use of electric bicycles? I lived in the Netherlands for years and that country had incredibly efficient transport networks for cyclists. Is there a move towards facilitating cyclists? At present in Dublin, the buses use the cycling lanes thus leaving cyclists in a very precarious situation. I have no seen change in the amount of support for cycling.


I am sorry for disturbing the Senator but I must ask that everyone switch their phones to flight mode as they interfere with the broadcasting service.

What is the Department doing to support cyclists and walkers? I ask because cyclists and walkers produce zero greenhouse emissions. If we are serious about tackling climate change then something must happen in those areas.

Mr. Doyle mentioned the alternative fuels offer and stated alternative fuel "offers one of the most cost-effective and feasible pathways" to reducing emissions. What is the cost per tonne of CO2 emissions abated by using alternative fuels? As more EVs are deployed, how will the revenue shortfall be recouped? According to the Department of Finance, it is studying this matter but what is under consideration by the two Departments?

What increase in emissions does the NTA foresee in the greater Dublin area, GDA, to 2035? Will it revise the GDA transport strategy in line with national targets for CO2 reduction? Did the Department and the NTA refuse to approve hybrid buses for Dublin in 2014? Why would they have done so? What are they doing now to accelerate approval?

I am frustrated. I listened to Mr. Doyle's presentation but with all due respect, I do not believe we are taking the urgency evident in the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly and applying it to policy to mitigate and adapt to climate change as required.

I have a further question. There are concerns about the effect of sea levels rising on transport infrastructure. For example, the Waterford-Rosslare rail line is constantly under threat of flooding when there are heavy rains. What is the Department doing to address adaptation measures in such circumstances?

Mr. Graham Doyle

The Senator asked quite a few questions. I am a fellow Waterford person, so I am familiar with the road, the journey from Tramore and so on that she mentioned. Deputy Butler was also in attendance earlier.

The Senator's first point was right. If someone ditches a diesel or petrol car for public transport or a bike, the effect from a climate change perspective will be the same as switching to EVs. We have had many questions about EVs. More than 50% of emissions come from private cars. Given that our population is highly dispersed, many people will be reliant on cars where the settlement patterns make it difficult to provide public transport alternatives.

It is natural that a lot of the discussion tends towards these issues. I spoke about the levels of investment and the significant increases in public transport investment over the coming years. We have worked very hard on arguing for this investment and now that the funding is available we have to deliver, and this is a critical point. I thank the Senator for that observation.

In terms of smarter travel, the lost period of investment after 2009 is probably the most significant point. We are now back to investing heavily. Following last year's budget we were able to announce a more than doubling of our investment in public transport over a short number of years and we were able to invest in cycling. We have had specific questions on how much is invested in cycling. Quite often this is very difficult to state because there are various types of vehicles on the road and various programmes. A quality bus corridor can benefit cyclists. Some of the investment in the Luas has also done so. We are now able to say that this year and over the coming three years we have set aside €106 million or €110 million specifically for investment in city-based cycling. Over the same period we have specified €50 million to €55 million for greenways. With regard to BusConnects, which Ms Graham touched on in response to an earlier question, it is very difficult to say specifically how much of a more than €2 billion investment is for the cycle lane element but we can see that in the programme more than 200 km of improvements to existing cycling lanes and routes and new routes will be delivered. This is where the real game is at in terms of cycling for commuting. We have seen significant improvements, particularly in Dublin-----

No cyclist would say that.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I ask the Deputy to let me finish the sentence. I was speaking about improvements in terms of infrastructure. I probably should not have used the term "improvements". We have seen significant increases in the numbers.

The Senator asked about incentives for electric bicycles. The bike to work scheme allows an individual €1,000 of tax relief and my understanding is that electric bikes come under this. I am pretty sure I am correct in this regard. A proposal made in 2014 for hybrid buses was also mentioned. I am not aware of this but I can check it. I suspect there was an issue with regard to differentials at the time in terms of price. It comes back to my point on whether it is a question of getting one, two or three busloads of people out of their cars. This was probably the issue at that time. We can certainly check whether a proposal was made back then.

I will ask Ms Behan to deal with the questions on alternative fuels and adaptation. A specific question about rail was asked and in my opening statement I mentioned the work Irish Rail has been doing.

Ms Laura Behan

I will need my memory refreshed on the question on alternative fuels.

It was stated in the submission that alternative fuels offer one of the most cost-effective pathways to reducing emissions. What is the cost per tonne of CO2 emissions?

Ms Laura Behan

Undoubtedly, investment in public transport is significant and costly. We are very willing to undertake it for climate reasons and a variety of other reasons. However, it is internationally acknowledged that as we progress, transition to the use of alternative fuels will provide the most cost-effective pathway for the transport sector to decarbonise between now and 2050. As the technologies become mass produced and more widely available, their cost will reduce and it will essentially become just a cost of replacing existing vehicles, which happens anyway.

It is true that in the national mitigation plan the incentivisation of electric vehicles is the most expensive cost on the marginal abatement cost curve. This is because of the price differential that exists between electric and non-electric vehicles and the significant cost of incentives to try to bridge customer acceptance and cost barriers. The cost differential is significant. We expect that over time this cost differential will fall and it is likely that alternative fuel technologies will become cheaper to manufacture than what is required for existing vehicles. This is important.

This year, the Government published its national adaptation framework within which all Departments and sectors are working to produce their own sectoral adaptation plans. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is tasked with writing the transport sectoral framework and we are working with the other key infrastructure Departments. With our various stakeholders and agencies we are identifying and mapping the critical infrastructure, mapping the impact of climate on the critical infrastructure and making an estimate of what we call the adaptation cost, which is the investment necessary to ensure we maintain transport infrastructure and services as we see various climate impacts. This work is well under way.

In the case of the specific rail line mentioned, Irish Rail is well advanced in mapping its infrastructural vulnerabilities and assessing the various programmes that will be necessary to shore up - which is a phrase I hate to use in this context - and maintain infrastructure and services. This will all feed into our transport adaptation plan as it is written.

As electric vehicles are deployed how will the shortfall in revenue be made up? Is the Department meeting the Department of Finance?

Mr. Graham Doyle

There is a working group on motor tax policy that will examine this very issue over a period of time.

Ms Anne Graham

In response to questions on the smarter travel policy of 2009, we made the targets set out in that policy part of the greater Dublin area transport strategy up to 2035. We have modelled the emission levels related to the transport strategy but I do not have them available. I can certainly make them available to the committee. We will be reviewing our transport strategy, as we are statutorily required to do so on a six-year basis. We will examine emissions at that time.


Ms Graham may not have the information now so perhaps she will provide it to us in writing.

Ms Anne Graham



Will she also provide us with a breakdown on the age of the bus fleets in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford?

At what age is a bus normally decommissioned?

Ms Anne Graham

Usually, buses are decommissioned at between 12 and 14 years but it depends. The city fleet is usually older, whereas buses used by Bus Éireann have to be decommissioned at an earlier stage because they have higher mileage. We try to keep the average age of the fleet to six or seven years.


It would be great if we could get a breakdown. Are there plans to increase capacity of trains and trams, including on the DART and Luas lines?

Ms Anne Graham

The heavy rail network is at full capacity. All fleet carriages are being used by Irish Rail to deliver services. Irish Rail has no additional capacity available. We need to purchase fleet. There is a lead-in time of three to four years for purchasing fleet and we hope to commence that procurement this year. That is the lead-in time for delivery. We are looking at other delivery options in the meantime because we have capacity issues on commuter rail services. We are looking to see if there are leasing or other options whereby we can introduce fleet sooner.

On Luas services, we took delivery of longer trams earlier this year, which facilitated the extension of the green line. More trams will be delivered in about two years to assist with capacity on the green line.

On that point, there is a capacity issue affecting the trains at peak hours as well. That needs to be taken into account in planning timetables. What is the National Transport Authority doing about congestion in its timetables? I hear all the time from people that they arrived on the bus arrives to Limerick to find the bus to Waterford had left ten minutes earlier. Congestion is having an impact on efficient liaison between bus services.

Ms Anne Graham

Congestion is having an impact in all our cities, not only on car journeys but also on public transport. That is why we are developing the BusConnects programmes in our regional cities, starting with Dublin. That is about trying to get a much higher level of priority for our bus system to regularise journey times so that people know how long their journey will be. That level of priority will avoid the types of issues Senator Grace O'Sullivan raises whereby one bus may not meet another because of delays. We are continually looking at automatic vehicle location systems to see where delays are occurring with the operators. We are building and changing timetables to ensure that buses that need to interchange are interchangeable. If there is a particular issue in Limerick, I ask the Senator to let me know and we will follow it up.

Mr. Graham Doyle

Somebody made a great point when we discussed rail capacity. Much of the investment in electrification and signalling that we are now looking at is about trying to put more train paths through, particularly on the commuter services. That has a very significant impact on overall capacity in the system. That is part of the projects Ms Graham is working on.

A number of the questions I had intended asking have been answered already. The witnesses mentioned interdepartmental meetings that take place at a high level between the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and other Departments. Are the minutes of those meetings available? If so, where can we find them? Can we find out what is discussed at these meetings?

To give an example of another concern, a new road is being planned in Galway that is costing astronomical figures. It will cost €80 million or €90 million to build 2 km of road belting through a sensitive environmental area. Despite this there has been no consideration of how the rail network in Galway could offset road building. How does all that fit in with what the Department and National Transport Authority are doing on climate change and how transport is supposed to work?

All the discussion today has been about Dublin, which is grand but I am from Donegal. There has been no mention of anything outside of Dublin and the greater urban areas. That is fair enough because the biggest change will happen in Dublin. However, somewhere in the region of half the population lives outside of urban areas. What efforts have been made to help people who live outside of urban areas to adapt and change? If I was to come here by train I would not be able to do it in one day. If I was to come by bus it would take forever. How are we to adapt and change and how are the witnesses' organisations achieving that?

In that context, I note that a pilot rural transport scheme was financed by LEADER for the past several years. What has been done about that? What have the Department and NTA learned from that and what will they roll out for rural communities and the rural population?


The rural element is important. Other members who are not here today would raise the issue of rural Ireland and its access to the capital city.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I will quickly run through those questions and maybe Ms Graham will contribute on some elements. I expect there will be no with difficulty with getting minutes for some of the various meetings that take place. I am not sure about meetings such as those of the senior officials group but we can look into what is available.

They are not available anywhere now.

Mr. Graham Doyle

The minutes of the light electric vehicle, LEV, task force meetings are available.

Ms Laura Behan

The LEV task force minutes are available on our website. We are about to publish a report of phase 1 which has a summary of all of meetings. We could certainly make that available.


When will that be available?

Ms Laura Behan

It is being considered by Government. As soon as we can get it approved by Government, we will release the report of phase 1.

The reason I am asking is that during last week's meeting the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment told us that all of these reports were available and all these meetings had taken place. As such, there is basically no real need for this committee.

Mr. Graham Doyle

I am certainly not saying that.

None of this information is widely available to the public. The Department does not make it available. I wanted to ask about that.

Mr. Graham Doyle

Yes. We spoke a great deal about electric vehicles today, as Senator O'Sullivan pointed out. We also spoke extensively about public transport not just in Dublin, in fairness, but in cities generally. The Department and Ms Graham's organisation have done substantial work on rural transport links and the local link scheme. The Deputy mentioned the latter, which is very active in County Donegal.

One statistic that is not official but emerges from some work we did several years ago is that traditionally the Department spent about 80% of its overall budget outside the greater Dublin area. Considerable investment was made in roads and rail over the years. That figure sometimes surprises people. It will decrease in the next number of years as we invest in some of the large-scale city-based transport projects. BusConnects is costed at more than €2 billion and is very much focused on Dublin and regional cities. We will also pursue projects such as the metro.

One could probably say, therefore, that 20% of the Department's investment generates about 90% of the conversation.

Mr. Graham Doyle

One could say that. As I pointed out, I am from Waterford and still live in the county, so I have some sympathy for the question. I will ask Ms Graham to deal with the elements that are relevant to her.

Ms Anne Graham

Deputy Pringle mentioned Galway, in particular, the bypass. One aspect of the approach to the bypass that was probably different in this case was that the NTA, with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, looked at what could be done in terms of an integrated transport plan for Galway city. This plan, which was developed in association with the plans for the bypass, has been adopted by Galway city and county councils. There is proposed investment of €200 million for BusConnects Galway to tackle congestion by improving public transport and promoting sustainable transport in Galway city. The next stage is implementation of the strategic transport plan for Galway.

In terms of Donegal, I am sure some of the bus operators, such as John McGinley Coaches, would be disappointed to hear that the bus takes forever from Donegal. The service is regular and popular. Other services are also provided from Donegal. In addition, local link in Donegal provides a significant number of services right across the Donegal. We continue to support and try to develop even more links between towns, villages and rural areas to ensure people who may not have a car have a public transport service which will bring them to their local town. We will continue to develop that for rural Ireland.

I thank the witnesses for their presentation.

I echo the comment made about the need for visibility for the charging network for electric vehicles. I concur with other speakers, in particular Deputy Lahart, that charging points need to become normalised and as frequent as bus stops. They need to be part of every street in every town and village to give motorists a feeling of security. Having chargers in view would have a psychological effect and give people a sense that they can rely on the charging network and will not be left abandoned somewhere in the middle of the night.

Transport emissions are still increasing, year on year, even though we are trying to encourage electric vehicles. We do not seem to be making progress. One of the reasons may be the fibs we were told by car companies about the supposed clean emissions of diesel engines. It is concerning that emissions keep increasing.

I obviously take a Dublin centric view of transport, for which I apologise to Deputy Pringle and other members. Some 500 buses in the Dublin Bus fleet are to be converted to lower emission vehicles. What fuel will they use?

This ties in to the BusConnects proposals put before the people of Dublin for the revamp of their bus services. It seems the programme will be pushed out to 2020 or 2021 because of the overwhelming number of submissions made on the plan. More than 20,000 submissions were made by Dublin people. This could be viewed negatively in that it creates a considerable workload but it is also a promising development. A number of these submissions raise questions about sustainable bus transport in the city.

As I stated at one of the public consultation meetings on BusConnects, it would be a missed opportunity not to introduce electric vehicles and buses when BusConnects is being rolled out in whatever form eventually emerges. I hope it provides certainty on bus journey times within Dublin. Progress on electric vehicles would be positive for the city as it help us keep Dublin at least moderately clean.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, attended an environmental conference today. He pointed out that the number of landfills around Dublin had decreased from 127 in 2011 to two large sites now. We talked about excess waste going into the black bin and that going into landfill. Landfill sites are set to be eliminated. I am not sure whether this is the area of expertise of the witnesses. I visited a recycling plant and I am not convinced that we are recycling all the items we carefully place in our bins. Is there any possibility of using landfill sites for biofuel production? Would the NTA buy these fuels? Maybe that is a question for a different agency.

On park-and-ride facilities, the Red Cow is chock-a-block every day, yet when the proposal for a new national children's hospital was before An Bord Pleanála, car parking was to be downgraded on the St. James's campus and people were directed to use the Red Cow park-and-ride facility. Staff and patients, particularly children, were told to park at the Red Cow and use the Luas to access the hospital campus. The Red Cow facility has exceeded capacity and many people cannot access it. Most people do not bother trying and park instead on the streets surrounding the hospital, which causes further chaos in residential areas. Are there plans to increase capacity at the Red Cow park-and-ride facility? How would the NTA go about doing that? Obviously, it would have buy a large amount of land to build car parks?

Mr. Graham Doyle

The Senator's first point on visibility and communications has come up loud and clear today and Ms Behan will take it back to the task force. The point was well made.

Notwithstanding all of the efforts and work, whether in modal shift or on the uptake of technology such as biofuels, it is still the case that emissions from transport are rising. The issue has probably been the most difficult to deal with internationally. In Ireland, every transport trip is less emitting that it was in the past. Emissions are not growing at the rate of demand for transport as the economy does well. We spoke earlier about the types of trips involved. We must manage to the greatest extent possible the growth in demand for transport, which will continue as our population grows and the economy hopefully continues to grow. This will be done through the heavy investment we are making in public transport. The change in technology is tremendously important for the existing scenario. While I accept the issue cannot be split into two parts in that way, that is one way that we sometimes think about the issue in the first instance. The Senator outlined the challenge we face.

Ms Behan will be happy to answer the question on alternative fuels. Ms Graham will answer the questions on BusConnects and park-and-ride facilities.

Ms Anne Graham

The Senator also asked a question about what type of fleet would be included in terms of low emissions. It is likely to be a mixture of diesel hybrid and a compressed natural gas, CNG, fleet that we are about to test, with both Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, to see what are the emissions associated with that type of fleet.

That work will inform our procurement strategy which will start at the end of the year. We hope the delivery of the low-emissions fleet will start late next year. We also want to test a fully electric fleet and will do so in a small town, rather than in Dublin. We will test to determine what all of the infrastructure costs are before we look to multiply it into a Dublin system. Other European cities do not tend to use double-deck fleets the way we do in Ireland and the United Kingdom; therefore, we need to see whether we can have a good battery power system for a double-deck fleet. We want to engage with manufacturers to see whether it can be delivered for the city at a reasonable price, with the infrastructure.

We know that we need to improve significantly park and ride facilities in the city region. Constraining car parking within city centre areas and facilities is one of the ways to try to encourage people to use public transport, but there has to be a balance. We have to make sure the public transport and park and ride facilities are available to allow people to make the change. I was not aware of capacity issues at the Red Cow.

They are massive.

Ms Anne Graham

I will take that issue away and have a look at it.

Ms Laura Behan

The Department is working with the NTA on the move to alternative fuels in the bus sector. In November we expect to begin a significant trial of alternative bus technologies on routes in Dublin and Cork. We hope to trial retrofitted buses, fully electric buses, hybrid electric buses and buses that use compressed natural gas along specific routes with similar driving patterns. We will measure the tailpipe emissions to gain a real understanding of the carbon and air quality emissions in the context of all of the various technologies used. We have been looking at all of the international literature which in parts has been conflicting. It is probably fair to say we need to have a much better understanding of how the various technologies will work in an Irish context. I refer to the way real bus routes are operated in Irish cities. The trial will begin in November and we hope to see outcomes and results from it by the end of the first quarter of next year. Initially, in the short run there will have to be a hybrid strategy for the urban buses. We hope the results of the trial and our research will feed into the NTA's longer term procurement strategy as technologies improve and decisions on the necessary investment in supporting infrastructure are made. If we transition the bus fleet in Dublin, Cork or any other city to natural gas or fully electric, significant infrastructure will be required to go along with it. We need to gain a fuller understanding of how it will work in a real sense before we make longer term decisions.

I would like to answer the question asked about converting waste to biofuel. A lot of the biofuel currently in petrol and diesel in Ireland comes from used cooking oil. A lot of waste is already being deployed in biofuel in the transport sector. The anaerobic digester in existence is using waste to produce biogas. It is hoped it will have significant potential as the market for compressed natural gas increases. Then we can substitute biogas for it in order to make it emit even less carbon over time.

I think all of the questions have been covered adequately by most of my colleagues, but there is one point I would like the officials to address. They continually refer to testing. The renewables section of this business is moving fast. The landscape is continually changing. Is there a school of thought or argument in favour of taking the information now available locally, nationally and internationally and making a decision on that basis? Things are changing very fast. I do not think Dublin, Cork or anywhere else in Ireland is unique or very different from other cities in Europe. There is an argument that this costly process could slow the rate of progress as we move towards public transport run on renewables.

Mr. Graham Doyle

We are going to make a massive investment in alternative fuel buses. We will invest in 500 vehicles in the coming years, which is a massive investment. We need to learn what we can from where some of these technologies are operated elsewhere. The Senator is absolutely right when he says the technology has been changing and improving. We are aware that there are different conditions, depending on how bus fleets operate or are deployed in various cities. That can have an impact, but we have committed to not buying any more diesel-only urban buses from mid-2019. As there is a date on it, it is an action point. Testing is absolutely the right thing to do from a variety of perspectives, particularly climate change. There is also value for money to achieved in lots of other things.

Ms Laura Behan

The start date for the commitment made is 1 July 2019.

Mr. Graham Doyle

No, the start date for the trials-----

Ms Laura Behan

Is the beginning of November.

Mr. Graham Doyle

-----is November, which is very soon.

Ms Laura Behan

It is imminent.

Mr. Graham Doyle

It is something we are doing.

When will it be completed?

Ms Laura Behan

We are talking about a 14-week period for the trial because we have 12 to 14 buses to be run throughout it.

It is a relatively short period.

Mr. Graham Doyle

Yes. It is something we have to try out.

Ms Laura Behan

One of the key lessons that has emerged from the international research into the deployment of alternative fuels and technologies in bus fleets is that there is a need for a local solution to a local problem. It has been discovered that key decisions can be made in looking at the networks and types of bus system in hand. On that basis it is possible to determine what is the best technology to deploy in each context. In the various cities where various technologies have been deployed it is a case of horses for courses. We want to be sure we have the right solutions for our cities.

I was keen to come back in because Deputy Brian Stanley seemed to be very upset about the intervention I had made at the start of the meeting. It is important to work out in a short timeframe what we are doing and what questions we need to ask. The point I was making was that this was one of the most useful facilities we had because it allowed us to access information and opened up the process of drafting the new national energy and climate plan. It was in that context that I raised the failure to obtain any of the reports we had requested from the Minister. The Secretary General said he did not even know that we had submitted a request in advance of the meeting for a list of the new actions being considered for inclusion in the national energy and climate plan. That is the interesting stuff. I do not know how our request did not get to him. We would be far better off if we could discuss those measures.

As I understand this has to be done by Christmas, I would like to ask some questions. First, what level does Mr. Doyle think transport emissions will have reached in 2030?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Before I answer that question, I would like to respond to the Deputy's first question which was related to the national energy and climate plan. As part of the EU energy package, member states are required to prepare and submit integrated plans. Naturally, that work is being led by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the sister Department of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is mapping the various strands of the plan and has told us that it will be issued for public consultation shortly.

The transport sector will be a key component of it. The measures in the national mitigation plan, NMP, will be built on and the investment in measures committed to under the national development plan are certainly a core part of that. The outcomes of the consultation process will form the basis of our input into national energy and climate plan, NECP. Our understanding is that December is the date in terms of this being an iterative process. That is where we are on the question the Deputy posed. If we missed something the Deputy was looking for before today, we apologise but I was not aware of where he was coming from earlier on.

Can I ask Ms Behan to address the 2030 question? It is a tough question so I will leave it to her.

Ms Laura Behan

We are currently at approximately 12.2 megatonnes in terms of transport emissions in Ireland, all of which are in the non-ETS. We have a national target to meet by 2030, which is a 30% reduction on 2005 levels of all of our non-ETS emissions. Every sector will be required to play its part in achieving that 30% reduction. We have always believed, and it has always been acknowledged, that there needs to be a least-cost approach to reducing non-ETS emissions. Measures should be deployed in the order and timeframes that are most cost-effective to achieve the transition that we need.

Can I come back to Ms Behan and the Secretary General? They are right that it is an iterative process. Mr. Doyle said it starts in about 12 weeks' time. The European Commission is coming here before Christmas. It is going to ask what are the Department's projections for climate change emissions from transport by 2030. What does the Department say to it?

Mr. Graham Doyle

We have to-----

Ms Laura Behan

The will be lower than they are now.

Mr. Graham Doyle

The issue for us has to be to try to get them as low as we possibly can with the various tools at our disposal.

Has Mr. Doyle done any modelling forecasting of what the transport emissions are going to be in 2030?

Ms Laura Behan

We participate in the transport research and modelling group, TRAM, which has commissioned that modelling. That modelling is being requested by the TRAM of the research agencies that participate in it.

Which research agencies?

Ms Laura Behan

We have not done it ourselves but we certainly have commissioned it.

Who do I go to get an answer to the question as to what the Department's projected transport emissions are in 2030?

Mr. Graham Doyle

That is work is being carried out to give us that-----


Is that research being carried out-----

Who is projecting our transport emissions by 2030?

Ms Laura Behan

It is not transport emissions on their own. The modelling is being carried out for the entire emissions system. It is not a question of us going off to commission transport emissions modelling, or the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment going off to commission the energy sector's emissions. It is being considered as an energy system as a whole and my understanding is that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment commissioned UCC to undertake this modelling.

Ms Behan said transport emissions are going to be lower. Why does she think that?

Ms Laura Behan

I think because of all the different measures we are currently deploying, including the biofuels obligation scheme increases, the transition to lower emitting technologies, the improvements in vehicle efficiencies that are mandated-----

Our emissions grew by 4% last year.

I will ask a different question. The TRAM people presented to us. They estimate that to 2030 we have a 50 million tonne shortfall, and that this is something in the iterative process that we have to show and we have to start in 12 weeks' time. How are we going to close that gap? How much of that 50 million tonne shortfall does Ms Behan think transport would be responsible for in this iterative process, in this new national energy and climate action plan? How much of that 50 million is the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport going to help us reduce?

Mr. Graham Doyle

There is a national target we all have to work towards. We have talked about how that is being co-ordinated across Government. In the transport space, we are very focused in this area. We have worked extremely hard to argue very strongly for heavy investment in public transport. That has been a major focus of our work as a Department and of my personal work over recent years. We now have a plan. Senator Grace O'Sullivan made the very important point that it is not just about electric vehicles, EVs. Even when people are in EVs, there could be a congestion issue, if we are not moving people onto public transport. We focused on the modal shift piece. We are technology-takers when it comes to electric vehicles in terms of private car use or other versions. We are pressing extremely hard, albeit as technology-takers, to see standards improve particularly in the freight space because that is where-----

If Mr. Doyle does not mind, what I do not need is a reiteration of all the different measures. We have just heard three hours of that. I want to focus specifically on the issue as to how we draft this new national energy and climate action plan. The reason we called in the Secretaries General is that we will be asking the same questions to the Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and all of the other Secretaries General. We know there is at least a 50 million tonne shortfall on the modelling projections. We are trying to get some sense as to what is the plan to address that. Maybe this has not been done yet. Has Mr. Doyle not sat down with the different Departments and said we know we have this 50 million tonne shortfall and asked how are we going to address it?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Those things are being looked at in the context of what is cost-effective and what can be done. We know from a transport perspective, in terms of how other countries have dealt with this and have made progress, that they are primarily in the areas we have talked about. We are trying to focus every effort on trying to deliver those in the first instance. Yes, we need to look at how much further we can go. In the first instance, we have got to be very focused on the work that has been laid out. For the past three hours or whatever, we have talked about matters which, given the Deputy's huge interest in this area, he has heard before. I respect that. From our perspective, we are making progress on implementing those key measures. A huge amount of work has been done around electric and alternatively fuelled vehicles. There has been good work done around alternative fuels, the biofuels obligation scheme, etc., that are having an impact across those key areas. We have focused really heavily on trying to get serious investment into the public transport space.

In the past I have heard the Deputy talk about the balance between spending on roads and on public transport. We are shifting that balance at this point.

In terms of all those really key things, we are looking at a country that has a dispersed population and where we are technology-takers. We have to focus on the areas, and we have been doing that, where-----

When we respond to the European Union that we are technology-takers, I do not think that it will take that as an answer.

What are the key public transport projects that are in construction today?

Mr. Graham Doyle

There was a period of time when investment in this country was very heavily constrained. We tried to keep up a pipeline in terms of doing a lot of the analysis, such that when finance would become available that those projects could happen. It is clear that a huge project like metro, for example, which has huge benefits-----

The question I asked was what about the key public transport projects being built now today.

Mr. Graham Doyle

We are in a phase now of gearing up to start delivering the projects that are laid out.

Is "none" the answer?


Allow Mr. Doyle finish. I will let the Deputy in.

Mr. Graham Doyle

If I can gather my train of thought, and if the Deputy will let me finish, in fairness,-----

If Mr. Doyle could answer the question-----

Mr. Graham Doyle

I am answering the question. We look at projects like metro. From the day one puts a shovel in the ground to the day one cuts a ribbon, one does not see the benefit of those. What we have rolling out currently is significant investment in the bus network.

BusConnects is a projectised version of that. We are making very significant investments now. Senator Grace O'Sullivan referred to investments in cycling. A significant increase in investment in cycling is happening over the next three years. This is not something we have put at some point in the future. Investments are happening. The work has been continuing.

The answer is that there is no major public transport project on the ground now. Unless Ms Graham knows about one.


I invite Ms Graham to come in on this issue.

Ms Anne Graham

While there is no major infrastructure project on the ground at present, what we are doing is improving on the services side. Tomorrow we will announce an increase that effectively will introduce 10% additional capacity in Dublin's bus services in the next three months. That is a very significant increase in the level of service available in the Dublin region.

While we are building up the infrastructure projects, what we are able to do is change networks, improve services and add additional services. A 10% increase in a three-month period is very significant in terms of the Dublin region.

The reason that I asked the question, and Ms Graham knows this because I have been deeply frustrated here and I am as fascinated by the support for public transport in Dublin, is that every single approach road to Dublin is being widened. There are projects such as N7 upgrade, which is going ahead now, there are projects to upgrade the N11, N2, N3 and the N4. There are ten roads, that is, motorways and national roads, under construction now and there is not a single public transport project. Ms Graham tells me that emissions will fall. Would somebody like to tell me how many cars will be on the road in 2030?


Ms Graham has indicated and I will allow her in on this issue.

Ms Anne Graham

We also have to accept that we delivered an extension to the Luas green line, and invested more than €360 million in a major piece of public transport infrastructure that has seen very significant growth in public transport use as well. Even at a time when Ireland had difficulty in terms of investment, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport invested in that project, which has now been delivered.

We also have to invest continually in the rail infrastructure to keep it maintained and more than €200 million is invested every year in the rail service. We must keep our bus fleet within an age profile and must invest in it. Again, tens of millions of euro are invested in the fleet each year. We know that we have to radically improve our public infrastructure even more and the plans and the investment profile is there now and we must work on providing that infrastructure.

I cheer on every one of those projects. What is the projection for the number of cars that will be on the road in 2030?

Mr. Graham Doyle

I do not have those data with me today.

It is growing by 55,000 cars a year. There is no reason to expect that would charge, is there? I do not think the economic growth will fall.

Mr. Graham Doyle

As the Deputy knows, economic growth goes through cycles.

Ms Anne Graham

There is also the phenomenon of peak car. Demand for passenger cars is a function of a number of variables.

It is likely that during this 12 to 13-year period we are looking, we are looking at an additional 500,000 cars.

Ms Anne Graham

From the current fleet of 2.2 million cars?

Ms Anne Graham

Well. I will accept the Deputy's word on that.

Mr. Graham Doyle

This is the reason that we will have to ensure that we try to make sure that any additional cars coming on the road, or the greatest percentage of them that we can achieve, are alternatively fuelled.

In regard to investing in roads, ultimately policy is matter for the Government. I personally argued successfully for rebalancing as prior to becoming Secretary General, I was in charge of public transport for a period and over the next five years, we are looking at investment in roads of the order of €1.5 billion to €1.6 billion whereas the investment in public transport over the next five years will be €2.7 billion. We will change a ratio. The ratio was probably 2:1 adverse and it is now moved in the other direction. This is not scientific figure but it is probably 1.5: 1 in the other direction. We are trying to bring about change.

Expenditure of €11.1 billion is planned for roads and €8 billion for public transport. The truth is that to date, it is ten roads and no public transport. There are 55 other roads, between national roads and motorways, planned. There are only three major public transport projects that I see.

Other than the Royal Canal, and I love the development that is happening there, can anybody name another major investment in cycling at present?

Ms Anne Graham

I cannot name it project by project but there is the Royal Canal which we are bringing forward. I suppose what we have to recognise is that in the downturn, when there was no capital investment available, we did put in place a strategic cycling plan for the Dublin region and for the regional cities, so that when we were in the phase whereby we now have investment available, we would be able to provide a network of cycle facilities rather than individual facilities that have not been connected up.

The BusConnects programme that will come forward and the bus corridors will see a really significant increase in the number of dedicated, segregated cycling facilities along all our key radial corridors. That is really highly significant investment.

What I hope this committee will do is build the political support for that because I do not believe it exists at present. The scale of the change we need is so great that the political support needed is also great and we are nowhere near it. The number of cyclists went up last year but it increased by 2.9%. That figure should be rising by 10% or 20%, there is a pent-up demand because the traffic is chaotic, and nobody can say how long it takes to get anywhere because one can run into gridlock at any time. If we made the "safe cycle network", we would be and could be Copenhagen. We should be doing that. That is not an increase of 2% per year, but a jump we need to make. The advantage of that is that the Minister could go into the EU negotiations that will happen in a few weeks' time and have an answer to the 50 million tonnes question, to which we do not have an answer today.

What is the climate emission of the additional measures that were included in the national development plan? What is the total carbon as a result of the new transport projects in Project Ireland 2040?

Ms Laura Behan

That is currently being modelled by UCC, I think, regarding the impact of the national development plan measures on the emissions shortfall that we expect to see.

Why did we not find that out before we signed off on the plan?

Mr. Graham Doyle

Our focus around the national development plan was to get as much investment into transport as we could. We spent a lot of time working very closely with our colleagues across Departments around this. I think the outcome from the transport perspective was a very strong one in term of much-needed investment for all kinds of reasons, economic and specifically around climate change. We have prioritised heavily shifting investment into public transport but we do have a road network of 100,000 km of roads in the country that must be maintained. It is really important that our economy remains strong in order to pay for the types of investment that the Deputy raises. That is a critical part. Our focus to date has been very much on trying to get investment into the key public transport projects that we are trying to deliver.

I think the national planning framework got it absolutely right. We have to switch to low carbon. We have to switch back to the core. The national development plan abandoned that. I cite Edgar Morgenroth, who I think was involved in the early stages of the planning framework and just about anyone with any climate, transport or energy expertise to whom I talk will say that we just went back to the old roads model. It is not going to work, it will not work in easing gridlock, economically, or in lowering emissions.

Could I ask for a written report from the Department in the next week, if possible or within the timeframe we have, asking how much of the 50 million tonne gap the Secretary General thinks the transport sector will be able to provide, because we have to know that when we are questioning the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine or other Departments.

I would love to get that figure from the Department, as well as information on how it will be delivered.


If we do not have those figures and if UCC is doing this work, we will need to invite representatives from the university to come before the committee. That is, if members are agreeable.

It is a bit unfair to UCC to expect it to run the transport system.


We are not just talking about transport but about all sectors and Departments. Is that not the nature of the research UCC is carrying out? It is looking at every Department. Is that Ms Behan's understanding?

Ms Laura Behan

It is a modelling of the energy system. In essence, it is proposing different variables of measures that can impact on fuel consumption on the transport side and on heating consumption and how they affect emissions between 2021 and 2030. The research is looking at energy use first and then emissions. It is very difficult to extract the transport piece from that. It is considered as an overall energy system and the modelling is conducted on that basis. I am not sure it will be feasible to answer the Deputy's question within that timeframe. I would hope that we would be able to do so in the context of the development of the NECP. As Ireland's national climate pathway is set out and when the interplay between the various sectors, measures are all fed in, in an iterative-----


Will we have more clarity on that by next month or when does Ms Behan see more clarity emerging? Is there a timeline?

Ms Laura Behan

I do not have any visibility at this point as to when the results of that modelling work will be made available to us. I do not have visibility on-----

At some point before the European Commission comes in, we will have to have an answer to the questions on who is doing what and how much it will reduce our emissions. I am not obsessed with modelling because it is difficult to model the future completely. I am sorry to become annoyed about a personal matter but I cycle down Leeson Street every day and I am nearly killed on a regular basis. We have a system that is completely car dominated. More schoolgirls are driving to school than are cycling to school. Could we model for changing that? Could we make it safer for our children to cycle or walk to school so that 30% of our rush-hour traffic is not accounted for by children being driven to school? This is so important in the context of diabetes and other health problems. It is not just about modelling but also about a vision for the future, about creating a city and a country that are attractive to live in, that are efficient and that work in every way.

Mr. Graham Doyle

Those points are well made and that is why we have worked so hard to get this amount of investment allocated across the various areas to which the Deputy has referred, including cycling.

The truth is that nothing is happening.

Mr. Graham Doyle

We have only just got the money. However, I do not think it is the case that nothing is happening.


I ask Mr. Doyle to provide any extra information his Department may have in the coming weeks. We will look at the work of UCC and whatever else is available. All of this going towards our report and we want it to be as robust, effective and meaningful as possible, with clear concrete decisions and actions that need to be taken. Anything that the Department can do to help us in that, in terms of written information, would be very much appreciated.

Mr. Graham Doyle

We will work with the clerk on that and try to provide-----


We will work with other Departments too. We will be asking the same of others. This is not just a matter for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. We will be asking the same of the Secretaries General and officials of other Departments that come before us. We need this information.

In that context, which Secretary General is appearing before the committee next?


The Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Will the clerk ask the representatives in advance what contribution that Department intends to make in the context of that cut of 50 million tonnes?


Yes, we will do that.

That might frame our debate.


On behalf of the committee, I thank the witnesses for their engagement.

The joint committee adjourned at 5.25 p.m until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 October 2018.