Waterford motorists who wish to buy new petrol and diesel cars must not be hit with punitive Vehicle Registration Tax hikes in this year’s budget, local Senator Paudie Coffey said today.
The Waterford Fine Gael General Election candidate spoke out amid fears the Government is about to slap new taxes on diesel and petrol vehicle owners in a bid to encourage them to make the switch to electric cars.
Senator Coffey said he will be personally making his views known to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and his Government colleagues on behalf of concerned constituents on the issue ahead of this year’s Budget.
The Waterford Senator believes people living in regional and rural areas will suffer the most from the impact of carbon reduction measures in relation to new cars they may wish to purchase.
While acknowledging that much more needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions, Senator Coffey has called for a “realistic step-by-step” approach to the issue, rather than hitting families with substantial cost barriers they cannot afford.
Senator Coffey said: “The impact of carbon reduction measures in the car and transport sector has a far greater impact on regional and rural communities than in our cities and this is a dilemma the Government must address."
“People in county Waterford do not have access to Luas and Dart tramlines and they are dependent on their cars to go to work and college. And until sustainable alternatives are in place then we need to help people to change their transport use and behaviour rather than create blockages."
“I will be making my views known on this to Minister Donohue ahead of this year’s Budget – we need to get the balance right and allow people the chance to adapt.”
Senator Coffey, a keen cyclist and outdoors enthusiast, said he supports moves to encourage more motorists to switch to electric vehicles. However, he argues the cost is still too prohibitive for most families and that much more work needs to be done to improve electric vehicle infrastructure in Waterford and across the country.
“For electric vehicles to be affordable for the average Irish citizen or family, the cost factor must be addressed,” he added.
“There is a genuine fear that VRT will be increased on traditional diesel and petrol cars when purchased to make them more expensive and to incentivise people to buy electric vehicles. However, I believe that this course of action will be counter-productive in the short to medium term and will only result in people hanging on to older cars that produce greater carbon emissions than the newer diesel and petrol cars - all of this while they wait for electric vehicles to reduce in price."
“The Government has an opportunity to get the balance right until such time as electric vehicle infrastructure, cost and technology has advanced enough to allow people make the change. The taxation lever of VRT needs to be revised to incentivise new car purchase over the options of keeping older cars or importing cheaper older cars, both of which has been increasing over the last couple of years.”
Senator Coffey, who was the first Oireachtas member to call for election posters to be scrapped, also said that simply banning petrol and diesel cars cannot be the only response to the daunting climate challenges we face.
“Yes, of course, we must encourage the use of electric vehicles, but in order for this to work we must develop the infrastructure to support electric vehicles in every town and village. Planning and investment in such infrastructure must start immediately and local authorities and the ESB must be resourced to engage with communities around county Waterford to develop electric vehicle connection points in accessible and appropriate locations."
“But we also have to take a much broader view of the problem. We must develop better and more sustainable transport options such as public transport, cycling infrastructure and introduce incentives to encourage people to change their travel habits with regard to how we move from one location to another.”