Monday 19 March 2018

Roads: Coalition plans new wave of tolls to raise €100m

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE Government has already started planning the introduction of tolls across the national road network in a move that could force hard-pressed motorists to pay up to €100m a year in increased charges.

The Efficiency Review group yesterday said the National Roads Authority (NRA) was investigating how much money could be raised by increasing the number of tolled roads, of which there are 13 at present.

It is calling for tolling schemes to be introduced on new and existing national roads to help raise money for local authorities and encourage motorists to switch to public transport. The group also said motorists who travelled abroad for long periods of time and did not use their cars during that time should be forced to pay motor tax.

The report said the "off the road" tax facility was used by almost 400,000 people a year, and cost the State €75m in lost revenue.

Sweeping changes to the motor tax regime are also proposed, including a €10 charge for motorists not renewing their tax via the internet.

The cost of a 10-year driving licence is also expected to increase from €25 to €40, while the cost of replacing a lost licence would double from €15 to €30.

The move to charge people a €10 fee for renewing their motor tax at public counters or by post was criticised by Age Action Ireland, which said the elderly would be hardest hit, as some 80pc of over-65s were not computer literate.

More than €1bn a year is paid in motor tax. In 2008, there was 5.1 million transactions, of which 70pc were dealt with in local authority offices or by post.

The report added the introduction of a congestion charge was the "logical next step" after tolling and would encourage a switch to public transport.

The AA's Conor Faughan said the proposal to roll out tolling made "no sense".

"The only purpose here is to raise extra money from motorists. Even if we accept that motorists will pay more taxes, using tolls to collect them is extremely inefficient and very costly," he said.

If one cent was added to the cost of a litre of petrol or diesel, up to €25m a year would be raised, he added.

Irish Independent

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