Harris ‘committed’ to EV training centre at barracks

The Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris says that he is “very committed “to making sure that an EV centre of excellence is established at Columb Barracks.

Responding to a query in the Dáil last Tuesday by Deputy Robert Troy about the current position of the project, Minister Harris said Longford Westmeath ETB is currently putting together a proposal to be evaluated by SOLAS (the state agency that oversees the further education and training sector).

“As recently as in the last two weeks, the chief executive of SOLAS visited there also and met the local education and training board, ETB, about this project and on a number of other issues.

“The government is fully committed to achieving our ambitious targets set out in the climate action plan 2023. A key component of the plan is the importance of fleet electrification and a target has been set for 30% of our private car fleet to comprise electric vehicles by 2030. Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland, ZEVI, has been established as the dedicated office charged with supporting consumers, the public sector and businesses to continue to make the switch to zero emission vehicles.

“It is important that projected workforce requirements are informed by the expertise of the relevant sectoral, departmental and industry experts, with my department contributing based on its responsibility to align future skills needs with current and emerging workforce plans developed by the sector.”

Minister Harris expressed confidence that LWETB’s proposal will get the green light.

“This is something we will see happen. I believe that Mullingar will be home to a centre of excellence for electric vehicle training. It will be a key component to roll out retrofitting. It is one of the big pieces of work we have done in the last number of years and we now have enough centres in that space and EV training will be the next one. Columb Barracks is an ideal site and location. I am fully committed, as are my department, SOLAS, and the LWETB, to making this happen.”

Deputy Troy asked if the decision to house refugees and asylum seekers at the barracks for a minimum of 12 months will have an effect on the provision of a centre of excellence in Mullingar.

The minister said he did not see it as “seriously disrupting the plans there”.

“The plans are at an advanced stage but there is still a bit of work to do in order to get to the actual delivery point. We are all aware of that but we are all very committed to making it happen.”