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Smarter Transport

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 3 July 2012

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Questions (20, 21, 22)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

91Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport if he will consider incorporating the Smarter Transport Bill 2011 into upcoming legislation. [31601/12]

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Paul Connaughton

Question:

154Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport if he will consider allowing road authorities to make bye-laws for the provision and use of charging bays on public roads in respect of electrically powered vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles; if he will further consider authorising a road authority to make bye-laws for the control and regulation of parking by car club vehicles on public roads. [31602/12]

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Eoghan Murphy

Question:

708Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport if he will consider allowing road authorities to make bye-laws for the provision and use of charging bays on public roads for electrically powered vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles; if he will consider authorising a road authority to make bye-laws for the control and regulation of parking by car club vehicles on public roads. [31605/12]

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Oral answers (7 contributions) (Question to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 154 and 708 together.

These questions relate to the Smarter Transport Bill, which was introduced last year by Deputy Eoghan Murphy as a Private Members' Bill, and the related matters of electric vehicles and car clubs. The purpose of the Smarter Transport Bill is twofold.  First, it aims to promote electric car use by allowing local authorities to make by-laws for the provision and use of charging bays on public roads.  Second, it aims to promote the development of car clubs by allowing road authorities to make by-laws for the control and regulation of parking by car club vehicles on public roads.

I support the promotion of electric and hybrid vehicles as one of the ways to reduce pollution and improve our environment.  With the current state of technology, which is advancing all the time, there are limits on the distance electric cars can travel before recharging.  The provision of recharging points is, therefore, an important component in encouraging the use of electric cars.

Car clubs have proven very successful in other jurisdictions, especially in Germany and the United Kingdom.  A particular benefit is that families often find that by joining a car club they can avoid the need for a second family car, especially in cases where they might need a second vehicle only occasionally.  As with electric cars, I am also in favour of car clubs as a way of reducing the number of vehicles on our roads.  I am, therefore, very happy to support appropriate measures to promote electric cars and car clubs.

I have met Deputy Murphy on the subject and conveyed my support for the principle of promoting electric cars and car clubs as set out in his Private Members' Bill. My Department is engaged in work on the development of the next road traffic Bill, which I hope to publish at the end of 2012.  This Bill will address a number of issues and will provide an opportunity to consider proposals for facilitating electric cars and car clubs.  As far as is possible, I intend to include the proposed measures from the Smarter Transport Bill in the road traffic Bill.

I thank Deputy Connaughton for tabling the question and the Minister for his positive response. I know he is very supportive of the measures contained in the Smarter Transport Bill 2011. GoCar, which is a company looking to introduce car clubs and electric car vehicles to our public streets, re-launched the company only last week following some recent investment, so the companies are in place and are ready to go.

I introduced the Smarter Transport Bill last year for the Friday sittings, although, unfortunately, it has not been taken yet as there is a very busy schedule. One development since then is that I introduced the Tax Transparency Bill this year, which means the Smarter Transport Bill is no longer in competition for debate and for approval by the Dáil. I urge the Minister to do as much as he can to transpose the content of the Smarter Transport Bill into the road traffic Bill 2012 and, at the same time, to notify local authorities that these changes are coming, one hopes, in order that they can prepare the necessary by-laws in advance.

As far as is possible we will integrate those provisions into the road traffic Bill 2012. The Friday sessions have been very useful in giving Deputies an opportunity to bring forward their own legislation. It seems to me that the Opposition always wins the lottery and I am not sure why that is. I certainly welcome the Bill and its provisions.

I support the idea of smarter transport and I support this Bill. I would like to see a big debate on this because we all know the environmental advantages we can get from moving towards supporting electric and hybrid cars and moving away from fossil fuels, as well as other issues in terms of protecting this economy. It is very important for environmental reasons that we have a good debate on this and that we all put forward our own ideas.

Was there a question?

It is not a question. Given the Minister is planning to introduce legislation, we can have a big discussion around this and the way forward. There will be huge savings for the whole economy and also in terms of the environment.

The Bill will go to committee, where there will detailed discussion. The take-up for electric vehicles has been pretty slow and there are more charging points than there are vehicles. There is one at my local train station and I do not believe I have ever seen it being used. I am going to try out a car for the weekend and see what it is like. What many people do not know is that the electricity is actually for free. To be fair, the ESB has done a very good job in trying to promote electrical vehicles. It is even doing it to the extent that it will charge a person's car for free, which seems a very generous offer.

Question No. 92 withdrawn.

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