Bid to accelerate State use of electric vehicles

The Defence Forces, An Post, the HSE, and education bodies are all being encouraged to switch over to using electric cars to reduce carbon emissions and government spending.

Environment Minister Denis Naughten recently met the Defence Forces chief of staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, and they discussed how army personnel could switch to using carbon-free vehicles in future.

An Post CEO David McRedmond and the minister also met last week and discussed using electric vans in the postal fleet, as well as the possibility of charge points being installed at post offices.

The moves come as the first dedicated electric vehicle public information campaign is launched this week.

Departments predict that, by 2020, there will be an estimated 20,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads. Currently there are fewer than 4,000 electric cars in Ireland and only a handful of the State’s publicly owned vehicles are electrically powered.

Department of Communications and the Environment sources confirmed the Defence Forces and An Post electric car meetings. They come after gardaí recently began testing the use of six BMW i3 electric vehicles.

Mr Naughten is trying to encourage the Office of Government Procurement to advise State agencies about going electric to help reduce climate change, which is under his remit.

The Independent Roscommon-Galway TD wants public employers, agencies, and officials targeted. These include ministers themselves (Mr Naughten is the only Cabinet member who has used an electric car for a time), departments, local authorities, local enterprise boards, and library bodies.

Contracting authorities in the health sector, including the HSE, Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) and HSE-funded agencies, and services funded by more than half by the exchequer should also be targeted, he believes.

Education bodies, including third-level institutions such as universities and institutes of technology, and contracting authorities including education and training boards (ETBs) and primary, post-primary, special and secondary schools should also be a focus so that vehicles used by employees are electric, the minister is pressing.

Furthermore, it has been decided to speak to the Irish Prison Service about its staff and services converting to electric.

Local authorities such as Dun Laoghaire, Tipperary, and Dublin City Council are currently using a number of electric vans, while An Post has arranged for a delivery of a batch of electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will launch its driving electric campaign on Wednesday in Dublin. It will highlight how transport accounts for a third of Ireland’s energy requirement and energy-related CO2 emissions, and electric vehicles offer a more sustainable alternative to the traditional diesel or petrol car.

The SEAI will also launch a new online information hub for those thinking of making the switch to electric.

In the last budget, the Government enhanced grants to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles, including for home chargers, while savings of up to €5,000 can be made on VRT. Tolls, starting on the M50, will also be discounted for electric vehicles later this year and the number of free public charging points are being increased beyond the 900 currently in place.


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