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Friday 22 September 2017

Proposals which could add 3c/L to diesel prices slammed as 'an attack on rural Ireland'

Analysts suggests the move would add around 3c to the price of a litre of petrol or diesel, and up to €45 on annual home heating bills. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Analysts suggests the move would add around 3c to the price of a litre of petrol or diesel, and up to €45 on annual home heating bills. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

Ciaran Moran and Paul Melia

Proposals for a 50pc hike in carbon tax, which is among the measures proposed to transform Ireland to a low-carbon economy, has been heavily criticised by one rural TD.

The revelation around the proposed hike was contained in a briefing note prepared for Government which sets out a range of options which could be brought in to reduce use of fossil fuels and move to a 'green' economy.

Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice said such a proposal would unfairly penalise people living in rural areas of the country.

"Raising carbon taxes by 50pc will increase the price of a litre of diesel and petrol, the price of a bag of coal and the price of a bale of briquettes, and that's only the start of it.

“There are further plans to introduce new restrictions in agriculture, transport, and power generation in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

“There are also proposals to reduce the speed limits on motorways and to cut down on the number of free car parking spaces available in the bigger cities and towns around the country.

“Obviously people who live in rural Ireland have not been thought about when these proposals were mooted," he said.

Fitzmaurice says in many rural areas there is no proper public transport and the vast majority of people have to use their cars to get to work every day and to go about their daily business.

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Key proposals

  • Reducing the maximum speed limit on motorways from 120kmh to 110kmh to help reduce transport emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes a year
  • A 50pc hike in the carbon tax - which could add 3c to the price of a litre of petrol or diesel
  • Removing public car parking spaces in cities by a 'small percentage' every year to give more space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport services.

Costs

Analysts suggests the move would add around 3c to the price of a litre of petrol or diesel, and up to €45 on annual home heating bills.

The move would also impact on the cost of a bale of briquettes, which would rise by around 14c, with 60c added to a 40kg bag of coal.

“Putting up the price of fuel and restricting where people can park for free is grossly unfair and will impact on them more than those who live in cities and who have access to proper public transport," Fitzmaurice said.

Speed limit changes

Another proposal includes reducing the maximum speed limit on motorways from 120kmh to 110kmh to help reduce transport emissions by more than 100,000t a year, and removing public car parking spaces in cities by a 'small percentage' every year to give more space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport services.

With regard to a possible reduction in the speed limits on motorways, Fitzmaurice said the official statistics show that motorways are by far the safest roads in the country with the fewest fatalities .

"Most modern cars have six gears now and are very fuel efficient on motorways" he said.

"The people of the country are paying over €400m in Carbon Taxes per year and that is apart from the many other taxes that we have on fuels, motor taxes other environmental taxes and levies.

“We have seen a reduction in school bus services over the past few years, there is talk about a reduction in train and bus routes in rural Ireland yet we see these proposals that would further reduce the ability of people in rural areas to go about their daily lives.

“These proposals are an attack on rural Ireland which will once again have to pay for all these changes and I will be opposing them when they are debated in the Dail chamber," he said.


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