17 October 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, has welcomed Budget 2018’s €17 million fund aimed at incentivizing the uptake of electric vehicles and the roll-out of the renewable heat incentive.
“As a member of the joint Oireachtas committee for Communications, Climate Action, and the Environment I was delighted that Budget 2018 is addressing climate change through a number of positive, environmentally driven policies and funding of energy efficiency programmes.
“One such programme the Government is very supportive of is the transition of our car fleet to zero emissions technology, especially electric vehicles. It is encouraging to see strides being made towards this ambition, with such substantial funding allocated towards alleviating the cost of purchasing electric cars.
“Even as the cost of ownership of electric cars goes down, many still choose traditional diesel or petrol engines because they are believed to be more economical. This new funding will help offset this cost and allow more people to access a sustainable, and more cost-effective, method of transportation.
“While there are current grants offered through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and reduced VRT (to a maximum of €5,000), additional funding was made available through introducing a proposed 0% rate of benefit-in-kind (BIK) in 2018.
“This scheme is to run for a year to encourage organizations to switch to zero-emission fleet.
“To meet the required reduction in CO2 levels as agreed to with the EU and the Paris Agreement more people need to use environmentally friendly methods of transportation such as the electric car. Electric cars allow drivers the freedom that they are familiar with along with the environmental benefits of a zero emission vehicle.
“Ireland has already begun to develop infrastructure to support the further demand of electric cars. The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) has over 1,200 free public charging stations across Ireland allowing for freedom of movement without fear of access to areas to recharge. This network of charging stations allows electric car owners to travel the country with ease.
“As a local I am pleased that Cork has begun to set the tone for a more sustainable Ireland by encouraging pursuit of zero emission transportation. Drive4Zero is one group with a pilot program based in Cork that provides additional incentives for transitioning to an electric car, such as free parking and reduced tolls.
“This additional funding allocated for the promotion of election cars will be instrumental in helping to develop a zero emission Ireland.
“I applaud my Fine Gael colleague Minister of Finance, Paschal Donohoe, for including such a policy to help promote a more sustainable Ireland, and I look forward to seeing additional legislation continuing to support this goal in the future.”