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Varadkar to push for free parking for electric cars

FANCY free parking in the city centre? Well you'll have to get an electric car first.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is considering new laws aimed at encouraging more motorists to go electric.

Prime city parking spots could be reserved for the eco-friendly cars. There are currently only around 200 such vehicles on the road in Ireland.

The exact details of the plan are yet to be worked out but will essentially give local authorities the option of allowing free or reduced parking charges for certain types of cars.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he supported the measures and planned to incorporate the legislation within a forthcoming road traffic bill to ensure it could get passed into law this year.

So far the ESB has rolled out 233 public recharging points - but plans are in place for 1,500 by next year.

And while it might seem like a fantasy now, the Government hopes that there will be 200,000 electric cars by 2020.

However, drivers of electric cars have complained that the charging points are often blocked by other road users or hazards.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy drafted the Smarter Transport Bill because a major stumbling block in current legislation means local authorities cannot even designate on-street recharging stations for electric vehicles only.

The industry has hit back at claims the electric car project has been a flop, claiming Ireland is now rolling out a world class infrastructure, with "futureproof" recharging facilities unlike other countries that will have to upgrade theirs.

Over 100 jobs have been created in the rollout including 18 in the ESB so far and a number of Irish companies have helped develop technology, apps and equipment such as charging points and cables that could provide valuable export opportunities.