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'Modest' plan to increase number of electric cars and 'measly' cycling investment

Eamon Ryan is not impressed by the €3 million allocated to improve cycling infrastructure.

original An electric car charging Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

IN A BID to increase the number of electric cars on Irish roads, a 0% rate of Benefit in Kind (BIK) for such vehicles is being introduced.

“This will be introduced for a period of one year to allow time for a comprehensive review of BIK on motor vehicles which will inform decisions for the next Budget,” Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said today.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) already offers grants of up to €5,000 to people who buy electric cars. However, as the initial cost of an electric car is often higher than the equivalent diesel or petrol vehicle, it’s still too expensive for many drivers.

A Vehicle Registration Tax relief to a maximum of €5,000 is also in place.

When announcing the Budget measures today, Donohoe told the Dáil: “Climate change is the global challenge of our generation and it must be met – for the sake of our children and future generations.

“This is recognised in the Programme for Partnership Government and also in the recently published National Mitigation Plan.

“We will continue to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency and I have allocated €36 million to facilitate the expansion of the energy efficiency programmes across the public commercial and residential sectors.

“I am also pleased to announce the allocation of €17 million to fund the rollout of the Renewable Heat Incentive and to incentivise the uptake of electric vehicles.”

‘Modest’ support 

AA Ireland said the government missed an opportunity to reduce “austerity-era fuel prices” and address the high cost of motor insurance, but welcomed the “modest” electric vehicle support announced.

“The idea to make electric cars exempt from Benefit in Kind tax for year will make them more attractive for those who have company cars,” Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs, said.

“Not a bad idea, but not a big idea either. There were less than 400 electric cars sold last year and there are just over 1,800 electric cars in Ireland. In Norway the figure is 135,000. This modest measure will not do much to close that gap,” Faughnan added.

Meanwhile, €3 million has been allocated for investment in cycling infrastructure. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was not impressed by this, calling it “measly”.

Read: Doctors say health budget will do little to improve ‘overcrowded death zone’ hospitals

Read: All weekly social welfare payments to increase by a fiver from March

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Órla Ryan

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