Free parking in cities may be used as incentive for drivers to switch to electric cars

Drivers may be given free parking in cities, road toll exemptions and other tax measures as part of new measures to convince them to swap existing cars for eco-friendly electric alternatives.
Free parking in cities may be used as incentive for drivers to switch to electric cars

The potential move will be outlined at cabinet today, during a meeting which will also see the Government reveal fresh plans to entice the multi-million euro European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority from London post-Brexit and confirm the €5 social welfare budget rises will take effect from March 17.

Under environmental protection plans first announced by the previous Fine Gael-Labour coalition in 2014, it was intended that up to 50,000 electric cars would be in use in Ireland by 2020.

The move was part of a series of measures to help Ireland bring down its pollution levels, and has seen the vehicles become high-profile additions in Dublin, Cork and other cities.

However, despite the environmental benefits of replacing petrol-based vehicles with electric alternatives, almost three years on just 1,700 are available in Ireland.

And as a result, at today’s cabinet meeting Transport Minister Shane Ross and Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten will attempt to entice regular car drivers to swap their vehicles for the less popular eco-friendly alternatives by confirming a new task-force which will be set up within weeks to consider new financial incentives for electric car drivers.

While the exact benefits on offer will not be agreed until the task-force completes its work several Government sources confirmed it is likely to exempt electric car drivers from road tolls.Free parking in city centres and other tax initiatives may also be considered in a bid to convince the public to take up the new technology despite falling oil prices.

The move is due to be announced today alongside separate confirmation that the €5 budget increases for pensioners, lone parents, the blind and people with disabilities will be implemented from March 17.

Cabinet is also expected to be told today that Government has targeted the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency — which combined have almost 2,000 staff — to re-locate from London to Dublin due to the Brexit fallout. Separately, plans will also be outlined this morning for a new national cyber security unit in light of recent attacks on firms in the US.

The new UCD-based unit, which until now has been a sub-section of the Department of Communications, will make it illegal for major companies not to inform it of sustained online attacks in line with wider EU rules.

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