The large scale transition to alternatively-fuelled vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions. In order to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies, especially the uptake of EVs, my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment jointly convened an inter-Departmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce.
Phase 1 of the Taskforce focused exclusively on EVs; the feasibility of introducing parking incentives, such as free or reduced rates for EVs, was reviewed during this work programme. Views of local authorities and private car parking operators were heard, and comparative research on international benchmarks was also presented to the Taskforce. Under the Road Traffic Act 1994, local authorities have the power to make bye-laws governing the type of paid parking controls in their areas; as such each individual local authority is responsible for designating whether to apply and enforce free or paid parking for EVs while recharging. Noting this legalisation the Taskforce concluded that dedicated spaces for charging EVs should be suitably identified and, where possible, made highly visible. It recommended that a capital support should be provided for the development of existing and new on-street chargers and that Local Authorities should ensure that parking at all on-street charging points is dedicated for EVs and that clear information is provided on conditions of use including where parking charges apply. A Progress Report summarising the Taskforce's deliberations has been published and is available on my Department’s website.
It may be of further interest to the Deputy that Action 81 of the recently published Climate Action Plan commits to examining a range of demand management measures, including parking policies, in all of our major cities as a means to reduce transport emissions. To this end, my Department, in collaboration with the local authorities, will commission a study later this year to:
- Consider key demand management drivers in an Irish context (e.g. congestion, air quality, climate considerations);
- Review international best practices on measures such as urban congestion charging, low emission zones and parking pricing policies; and
- Recommend the most appropriate responses for Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford taking into account overall transport strategies in each case.
Implementation of required and most appropriate measures in each case will have regard to existing powers of local authorities. I will work closely with Minister Murphy and his Department if additional legislation or local authority functions are identified as providing pathways for addressing these matters.