Motorists should pay to drive into city centre, say Dubliners

Three-quarters of respondents to public consultation support low-emission zones

Traffic on George’s Quay in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

Traffic on George’s Quay in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

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Dubliners want motorists to be charged for driving polluting cars and lorries into the capital, according to research carried out by the four Dublin local authorities.

Three-quarters of submissions to a public consultation process on an air quality plan for the Dublin region supported the introduction of “low-emission zones” which would limit vehicle access to the city and other parts of Dublin through charges based on their polluting potential.

The EU ordered the Dublin councils to prepare the air quality plan after nitrogen dioxide levels were found to exceed annual legal limits at one monitoring station in the city. The gas is associated with a number of respiratory conditions, including reduced lung function and increased asthma attacks. It is considered a likely cause of asthma in children.

Nitrogen dioxide, which in cities is largely associated with transport emissions, is monitored at 12 stations across Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin. The limits were breached in 2019 at one station: St John’s Road West, beside Heuston station in the city.

Submissions

Some 208 people made submissions through the local authorities’ websites on the plan during October and November. More than half lived in Dublin city with just under 20 per cent in Fingal, 15 per cent from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, 10 per cent from South Dublin and 4 per cent from outside Dublin.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents supported the idea of strengthening local authority and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) powers in relation to dealing with air pollution, with 75 per cent supporting the implementation of low-emission zones by local authorities.

Those opposed to penalising polluting vehicles by charging them for entry to certain zones gave a number of reasons, including that air quality in Dublin was “satisfactory” and no action was required, and that charges would be a “stealth tax” on motorists.

The results of the public consultation process will be considered as part of a final plan due to be submitted to the EPA by December 17th.

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