Coalition tensions are growing over plans to reduce private car usage, with Ministers set to discuss a new strategy at Cabinet on Tuesday.
Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan is expected to bring a memo to Cabinet that will include an annex to the Government’s climate plan, setting out how and when climate measures can be achieved.
One aspect of this will include a commitment to develop a demand-management strategy in transport, detailing the ways in which the country can move to end congestion and change the way road space is used.
The plan would see priority given to public transport, cycling and walking, as part of Government aims to give people viable alternatives to using the car for every journey.
Modelling work has been completed which details options including congestion charges, the pedestrianisation of urban centres, cheaper public transport, fuel price increases and higher car parking charges to achieve these goals.
It is understood the strategy will take a year to be completed and agreed, but already there are tensions within the Coalition around such measures.
One Fine Gael source said the suggestions are “as of now, nothing but options”.
Another said “it is modelling, not policy.”
Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said the new modelling, derived from the National Transport Authority (NTA), suggested a congestion charge of €10 for motorists and a 400 per cent increase in parking charges.
“We’ve all seen the crippling effect petrol and diesel increases have had on motorists and businesses alike.
“Taken in the round, congestion charges and fuel increases will also end up increasing consumer prices as it costs more to bring goods to city centres,” she said.
“Our city centres are still recovering post-Covid. Any move to restrict motorists should be tied to capital investments ensuring that motorists have tangible alternatives to use when leaving their cars at home.
“Any plan should focus on how we continue to prioritise improving public transport infrastructure, instead of placing further pressure on motorists.”
Under the annex being brought by Mr Ryan to Cabinet, there will be a greater focus on a smaller number of high-impact actions. Sources said that actions are being prioritised “that will really move the dial on the mitigation of greenhouse gases.”
New taskforces will be set up on issues such as land use and just transition. It is understood a number of climate measures will be accelerated.
There will be a commitment to speeding up offshore wind development as a key part of a broader shift to renewables.
Ministers will also be told of the development of an anaerobic digestion pilot project in order to have 200 anaerobic digestion plants across the country by 2025, as part of measures to provide greater diversification of income for farmers and rural Ireland.
The NTA modelling, details of which were reported on Sunday by the Business Post, outlines a series of measures required for reaching the transport sector’s climate targets, including a 400 per cent increase in parking charges on 2016 levels, a €10 daily charge for driving in cities, a halving of public transport fares, and a 20 kilometre per hour reduction on all national road speed limits.