ON a big week for climate action at Kildare Co Council, a smaller blow was also struck with a new councillor’s very first motion that could eliminate parking fees at electric car charging points – at least for the charging period.
On an agenda where fully half of the motions were climate- or green-related, Cllr Bill Clear (SD – Naas MD) proposed the council defer a decision to charge for paid parking at the six council-owned charging points “until there are sufficient charging points in the county”.
This came to light in recent weeks when, after five years of impunity, the county council started issuing parking fines for electrical vehicle (EVs) at its charging points in car parks in Athy and Naas.
“Whoever decided to do it didn’t put up a sign,” said Cllr Clear.
He estimated that the annual loss of revenue to the council because of this was a grand total of €260, which he believes could be easily met through a transfer of LPT funds.
He explained that Kildare has only 12 such charging points, half of which are in public ownership, in just three car parks in the two towns.
“This number needs to grow substantially if we are to favour electric cars over petrol and diesel, but in the event of paid parking being introduced, the first two hours should remain free,” said the new Social Democrat councillor.
“People [with electrical vehicles (EV)] are getting tickets where they hadn’t before,” he explained to the executive, after complaints had been made.
“If we’re to reduce resilience on cars and aim for 100 percent on electric cars there should be no parking charges for EVs for five years,” he added.
“No other councils and three of the cities don’t charge for this,” he went on, before explaining that an average car charge today took about two hours.
Cllr Ivan Keatley (FG-Athy) voiced an agreement that “there’s no charge for parking and charging” but raised the valid point that “we’ll have to make sure no-one stays there all day”.
Cllr Naoise O’Cearúil (FF-Clane/Maynooth) proposed the council install charging points in every new estate “every 10 or 12 houses, perhaps”.
However, caution on the nation’s direction of policy was offered by Cllr Vincent P. Martin (GP-Naas).
“The elephant in the room is the lack of expansion in public transport. If you’re going to convert one million petrol and diesel cars into one million EVs, we will still have gridlock,” he warned.
‘There were no proposals last year or this year for public transport increases. Couldn’t Kildare challenge itself to be a leader with the most charging points ?” he asked.
The motion was easily passed and will go before the Strategic Policy Committee to amend the current bye-law, before returning to the full council for formal adoption in September.
There are plans currently on the books to install further EV charge points in Sallins, Newbridge, Celbridge, Kildare, Leixlip, Maynooth, Clane and Kilcock as well as two for the car park at Áras Chill Dara.