Councils reluctant to invest in EV infrastructure should be guided by Government, committee hears

Eamon Ryan admits ‘something wrong’ with previous public charge point scheme

Local authorities that “don’t want to know” about electric vehicle charging infrastructure and are reluctant to invest require Government intervention, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Fianna Fail TD Christopher O’Sullivan said EV charging points were not being installed in public areas around his Cork South West constituency.

“I think there needs to be a direction to local authorities because at the moment they don’t want to know about it, they don’t want to put their resources into it,” he told Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan at a sitting of the Oireachtas Environment Committee on Thursday, tasked with updating progress on the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

Last month, the Government set out ambitious plans to rapidly expand the country’s charging infrastructure, a crucial step toward bolstering consumer buy-in.


However, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, echoed Mr O’Sullivan’s concerns, raising the lack of local authority take-up on one specific funding scheme.

He was referring to a report in The Irish Times last month which revealed just four councils – Dublin City, Louth, Tipperary and Meath – had at that stage signed up to the EV on-street public charge point scheme, introduced over three years ago.

“I think probably there was something wrong with the scheme,” Mr Ryan said in response, noting a financial incentive that was “probably too low in truth”.

“But, sorry, that’s not good enough. If a local authority really wanted to do it, it could have done it and it was disappointing,” he added, and noted that Fingal Co Council in north Dublin was also leading the way in terms of EV investment.

In his opening remarks to the committee, Mr Ryan said the Climate Action Plan aimed to have one in three cars being electric by 2030, and later added that home charging must be expanded.

However, for longer trips into Ireland’s peninsulas, especially those frequented by tourists, there was a “real problem”.

The recent establishment of a €100 million EV charging point fund will target key locations such as sports clubs, and later community centres, hotels and destination points.

The strategy, revealed last month, could see the number of charging points increase from about 1,700 to as many as 4,850 within three years.

However, this will place pressure on the electricity grid. Mr Ryan said the recent fitting of four charging points at Government buildings was quickly seen to be insufficient.

“But if you talk to the Oireachtas in terms of could we get more, it’s not easy to get grid [capacity] in. It’s a big infrastructural investment,” he said.

A new transmission grid in Dublin, he later explained to the committee, would need to be on a scale that would serve supply needs into the middle and end of the century.

The Climate Action Plan 2023 will implement the legal requirements to cut emissions. A specific “annex of actions” setting out how this will be done is to be published next week.

Ireland has a 51 per cent reduction target by 2030, relative to 2018 levels, and achieving climate neutrality by no later than 2050.

Addressing the wide span of ambition, Mr Ryan played down any immediate expectations of progress in the agriculture sector, but said transport remained the country’s greatest challenge.

“I think there was a reduction in fertiliser use, perhaps of about 14 per cent which would obviously reduce emissions, but at the same time I’m quite certain our dairy herd continued to expand,” he said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times