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Dublin City Council has been criticised after a photograph of a clamped electric vehicle parked at a charge point in Ringsend was circulated on social media.
According to the council “this vehicle was immobilised because it had not paid for parking”.
“Electric vehicles like all other vehicles are obliged to pay for parking in a pay-and-display-zone” the council said.
However, this creates something of a problem for those in Government attempting to incentives the uptake of electric vehicles. It can take up to eight hours to fully charge one and the cost for parking is up to €2.90 per hour.
In addition parking is allowed only for a maximum of three hours.
Minister for Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten has suggested free parking, free tolls and possibly access to bus lanes as measures which would incentivise the take-up of electric vehicles.
But the chairman of Dublin City Council’s strategic policy committee on transportation has dismissed the idea.
Cllr Ciarán Cuffe was speaking at the launch of a Green Party policy to “mandate” filling-station owners to install fast-charging points for electric vehicles.
He and party leader Eamon Ryan dismissed free on-street parking for electric vehicles. Mr Cuffe said the Government should make incentives such as forecourt owners being obliged to offer charging points but otherwise the focus should be on public transport, he said.
The clash of public policy on electric vehicles only begins here. The Government has incentivised the purchase of electric cars with a grant of up to €5,000 – hoping to attract fleet buyers.
However, the Revenue has confirmed that employees who avail of free electricity at their place of work are liable for benefit-in-kind tax. The actual sums involved are minuscule – it costs in the region of €2.50 to fully charge a Nissan Leaf – but employers may be discouraged by the bureaucracy involved.
The charging network contains 1,200 charge points, 300 of them in Northern Ireland. Just 85 of these are fast-charging points, 70 in the Republic and 15 in the North. The fast chargers typically recharge a car to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes. But at 70 across the country queues are frequent, while the alternative can be a multi-hour wait.
In Dublin inside the canal cordon there are no fast chargers. In Co Kerry there is one listed. The entire northwest is regarded as a blackspot.
The ESB said it was not expanding the network pending a decision on charges from the Commission for Energy Regulation. The regulator has recently told an Oireachtas committee there could be no more cross-subsidies between sectors: “General electricity users cannot be asked to subsidise car users by subsidizing price of their fuel.”
This means the regulator is not minded to continue to incentivise electric vehicles. Yet the departments responsible for transport and climate change have a high-level committee of civil servants due to report this month on what new incentives can be brought to bear on the low take-up.
In 2008 the government said 10 per cent of the entire vehicle fleet would be electric by 2020, some 250,000 vehicles. In 2014, it was revised to 50,000. This year it fell to 20,000.
Last week the State’s national mitigation plan included a pledge to effectively electrify the entire Irish car and van fleet by 2030.
This will not happen by magic.
The Taoiseach needs to get himself a 300km-range electric car and drive the plan forward.