The Government is to provide a further €18.7 million to help lorry drivers struggling with high fuel costs, providing hauliers with up to €1,200 per heavy goods vehicle (HGV).
The support scheme to help the road haulage industry is being extended into next year, coming on top of €15.5 million that was drawn from a fund of €18 million made available last March.
The funding is aimed at supporting the haulage industry as it has had to grapple with elevated prices of fuel since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, sending fuel costs soaring and adding to the already increased haulage costs stemming from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton, who has responsibility for haulage and logistics, said the funding was being extended into next year because “fuel costs remain at record highs and the wider economic landscape remains uncertain”.
The scheme would help hauliers by providing “emergency financial support to ensure that businesses remained viable and Ireland’s supply chains remained operational,” she said.
Lorry drivers will each receive more under the extended scheme.
It is proposed that haulage companies will be paid €1,200 per lorry for each of their first five vehicles, €700 per HGV for vehicles six to 20 and €200 for the 21st and each subsequent vehicle.
Under this year’s scheme, €100 was paid to every HGV over 3½ tonnes, based on each road haulage operator’s licence.
Not all operators availed of this year’s scheme, with about 80 per cent of operators applying.
The new support scheme is subject to State-aid approval from the European Union and will be on offer to licensed haulage operators for each eligible vehicle authorised on their licence as of December 9th.
Payments are not expected to begin until the end of March.
Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said the additional support scheme was “necessary” for the industry given its higher costs and a slowdown in business.
“We have come through some very rough months. We have had a downturn in sectors. We have no timber on the road. The market is shot. Construction has plateaued,” he said.
Hauliers were also struggling with the higher cost of materials such as tyres.
“It looks like it will be a difficult January for us. Demand for transport has eased. This is very welcome. It is a sizeable chunk of money and we are very appreciative,” he said.
“It is enough to tide us over and we will have to see where fuel costs are in February and March. We are the users who are really feeling the costs.”