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Report urges review of future road projects in bid to halve emissions

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Stock image. Photo: Mark Condren

Stock image. Photo: Mark Condren

Stock image. Photo: Mark Condren

A REVIEW of all future road construction and the introduction of road use charges are among recommendations from an Oireachtas committee on ways to halve transport emissions.

A report from the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action urges Government to aim for a radical shift away from dependence on cars as the primary mode of transport.

Cars account for 74pc of all journeys undertaken in Ireland.

The report says concepts such as the fifteen-minute city, ten-minute town and ‘every village, every hour’ should shape how planning decisions are made and how public transport is provided.

Transport is responsible for 20pc of the country’s total annual carbon emissions which the Government wants to cut by half by 2030.

The committee heard from Irish and international experts in transport, planning and the environment over a series of meetings earlier this year.

Committee chair, Green Party TD Brian Leddin, said many of them emphasised the ‘avoid, shift, improve’ approach to transport and the report sought to how that could be embedded in national policy.

“Reducing transport demand must be the first and key priority, followed by shifting carbon-intensive journeys to zero carbon modes such as walking and cycling, and by providing sustainable public transport in both rural and urban areas,” he said.

The report calls for a review of all future road construction but does not identify any projects the committee felt might be shelved.

Mr Leddin said that would be for the Minister to consider.

“It came through loud and clear from the witnesses that building roads induces further private vehicle journeys,” he said.

“That’s not to say all roads shouldn’t be built but it’s certainly the right time now to stop and look at what are the roads projects that are genuinely needed and what are the ones that are going to cause further problems.”

Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke said he believed commuters stuck in congestion simply wanted a solution and didn’t mind if that came through provision of a new dual carriageway or a good public transport service so there were alternatives to roads in many cases.

The report, which contains 47 recommendations, also calls for the development of rail services for freight, a removal of tax reliefs for freight diesel and creation of a central digitalised system for freight logistics to enable space sharing so that trucks were not on the roads while empty or partially empty between deliveries.

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Another recommendation calls for a costing exercise to be carried out on the idea of providing free public transport for all.

An examination of road user charges that would be imposed on motorists, possibly on a kilometre driven basis, is also sought, including how the revenues generated could be diverted to sustainable transport projects.

Other recommendations focus heavily on the need to provide better cycling infrastructure, not just along existing roads but on cycle only routes in built-up areas and on cycling superhighways to allow for longer commutes and journeys between towns, particularly for electric bike users.


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