Government ‘not leading by example’ on electric cars

Most departments have no chargers despite urging others to go green

April 18th, 2018: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) launches its #DrivingElectric campaign, hoping to encourage drivers to choose electric cars over petrol and diesel.

 

Government departments have installed just six electric car chargers to be shared by their 35,000 staff, new figures show.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Cabinet colleagues Charlie Flanagan, Heather Humphreys, Regina Doherty, Paul Kehoe and Michael Ring have all admitted having no charging points at any of their departmental headquarters or offices nationwide.

Last week, Fine Gael ran a campaign called Green Week, during which Mr Coveney urged the country to “focus on going green” to tackle climate change.

As part of the campaign, Senator Tim Lombard, Fine Gael’s climate action spokesman in the Seanad, said more charging points were needed to persuade people away from petrol and diesel.

“The more visible and plentiful charging points are – the more realistic an option the change to electric vehicles becomes for people,” he said.

But figures obtained in response to a parliamentary question reveal that charging points are far from visible and plentiful amid the government’s 9,500 car parking spaces country-wide.

Under review

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten said he has one e-car charging point at his department’s headquarters on Adelaide Road in central Dublin. “The position at my department’s office locations will be kept under review in the light of growing demand,” he said.

Despite all the rhetoric, it speaks volumes that the government, as the largest employer in the State, has such a low level of charging points

Minster for Transport Shane Ross, who last year declared the Government would “embrace” the electric car, said his department also has one charging point, at his headquarters at Leeson Lane in Dublin. There are none at his department’s Loughrea, Shannon or Killarney offices.

Minster for Agriculture Michael Creed said his department has one charging point at the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co Cork.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said his department also has only one e-car charging point at the Custom House in Dublin and “will keep the matter under review as the use of electric cars increases”.

Staff working at the Dublin headquarters of Minster for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone share two charging points at Miesian Plaza, Baggot Street, but there are none at any other departmental offices around the country.

‘Failing’

Sinn Féin TD John Brady, who obtained the figures, criticised the Government for “failing to lead by example” in promoting more people away from fossil fuels into electric cars.

“The statistics are startling,” he said. “I was contacted by a number of staff who work in different government departments, they thought it was bizarre that they were so badly served in their particular departments.

“The Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment have a whole range of incentives to promote electric cars through the likes of the home charger grant and purchase grants, yet in their own department there is only one charging point,” he said.

“Despite all the rhetoric, it speaks volumes that the government, as the largest employer in the State, has such a low level of charging points.”

Mr Brady said Government Ministers should be driving electric cars and their staff given the option to do the same. “We need to get beyond the PR. No-one buys into that and the figures bear that out,” he added.

Government policy published in May 2017 set a target of banning any new petrol or diesel cars or vans by 2030.

In a joint statement last year, Mr Ross and Mr Naughten said they believed “an even greater level of ambition must be set” so that Ireland “becomes a leader in the take-up of electric vehicles”.