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Reduced speed limits and less parking in bid to halt climate change

Plan will stop landlords renting out poorly insulated properties

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Speed limits on motorways could be reduced to 110km/h. (Stock photo)

Speed limits on motorways could be reduced to 110km/h. (Stock photo)

Speed limits on motorways could be reduced to 110km/h. (Stock photo)

Fewer parking spaces in urban areas and reduced speed limits on motorways form part of the Government's new strategy to tackle climate change.

The National Mitigation Plan also proposes to ban landlords from renting out poorly insulated accommodation.

It repeatedly cites taxation as the best way of influencing public behaviour, suggesting changes to the motor tax and VRT system.

The plan was launched by Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten yesterday after the Cabinet held a special meeting to discuss its contents at Castletown House in Celbridge.

In order to avoid images of a fleet of ministerial cars arriving at the Kildare venue, ministers were bussed from Government Buildings.

Mr Naughten told his colleagues that for Ireland to meet its climate change targets, it would require a "whole-of- Government approach".

"As a country we are playing catch-up on our obligations in relation to climate change," he said afterwards.

"Energy efficiency is central to this plan. This is because using less energy and using it more efficiently is the most cost-effective and accessible way to tackle climate change."

However, many of the proposals in the report are likely to face stiff opposition, especially in the area of transport.

The authors admit there is a "lack of official and robust data" to back up the lowering of motorway speed limits, but add "various sources suggest that moving from 100kmh to 120kmh increases fuel consumption by up to 20pc".

"One option could be to reduce maximum speed limits on motorways from 120kmh to 110kmh for cars/LGVs and from 90kmh to 80kmh for HGVs," the report says.

For this to happen there will have to be "a steep change in speed enforcement across the country" which will require buy-in from the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána.

In a bid to force people on to public transport, the report says there should be a reduction in public parking supply in urban centres.

This would allow "more spaces to be available to facilitate services and infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation".

"Changes to parking supply in urban centres would have to be considered in tandem with policies on 'out-of-town' parking," the report says.

Mr Naughten is keen to normalise the use of electric vehicles with the plan putting forward a series of proposals for how to make this happen.

"Technology advancement, affordability and consumer choice will be the greatest levers in triggering large-scale change," the report says.

A taskforce has already been established to consider the range of measures available to the Government to accelerate the take-up of low carbon vehicles. All new cars and vans sold from 2030 will be capable of having zero emissions.

In the meantime, tax policy is to be used "to underpin a clear pathway and positive policy environment for an early transition to alternative, cleaner fuels".

This suggests carbon tax on petrol and diesel will rise, while the motor tax and VRT systems face being "further amended in line with improvements to energy efficiency and emissions reductions".

The Government is also looking at the impact of domestic activities on carbon emissions, with the report noting a link between energy poverty and the low levels of energy efficiency in rental accommodation.

It sets an objective that after 2020, regulations should be introduced to preclude the leasing of the lower BER-rated properties in "the interests of improving living standards and reducing energy costs for those at risk of energy poverty".

Separately a 'Renewable Heat Incentive' is being developed to help homeowners upgrade their properties.

Irish Independent