A new grant scheme to help motorists in rural Ireland buy electric vehicles should be rolled out, according to Social Democrats climate spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“There is currently a grant of up to €5,000 available for those who purchase an electric car – but that is being reduced and phased out from July. Nothing is planned to replace it," she said.

People who live in rural Ireland have very few, if any, public transport options, she said, adding that that rural people also tend to make longer journeys in their cars.

“The price of electric vehicles is prohibitive for many. If the Government is serious about ensuring there is a just transition – and meeting its climate action targets – it must support people in rural Ireland who want to reduce their emissions,” she said.

Public transport

Connecting Ireland, the Government’s current scheme, had a budget of just €5m last year and €8m this year.

These, Whitmore said, are paltry amounts which betray a lack of ambition.

“In tandem with increased public transport investment, a dedicated grant scheme to help motorists in rural areas buy electric vehicles should also be introduced.

“People in rural areas are more reliant on their cars and make longer journeys – so this is a targeted measure that will help to reduce emissions from the transport sector.

“The existing grant scheme is being reduced and phased out from July. We now need a standalone rural grant scheme for electric vehicles.”