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Leo's M50 tolls plan is savaged by his own side

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar's plans for new tolls on the M50 have been described as "unfair" by one of his own party colleagues.

Mr Varadkar hopes to raise €50m a year in extra fees by introducing multi-point tolling on the Dublin ring road.

But his fellow Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell told the Herald she believed the plans made no sense.



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"I think when it's examined it will be found to be more expensive to bring in a new scheme than the revenue it will collect," the Dublin South TD said.

"I don't think it's fair to penalise people for journeys they have to make locally. The whole idea is not to charge these people (but) to charge long-distance journeys."

She pointed out many people were now forced to use the motorway because local roads in their areas "were cut off" by the construction of the M50.

Her worry is multi-point tolling would mean extra costs for businesses and people bringing their children to school.

She believes it would make the country "less competitive" and it would also "push traffic on to the old local roads".

No decisions have been made yet on the proposal but Ms Mitchell thinks, when it is looked at, multi-point tolling "will not make sense".

Her comments echo remarks she made last year year as an opposition TD and Fine Gael consumer spokeswoman. She had said any new charges on the M50 would undermine the value of a road for which the public has paid for many times.

But Mr Varadkar told the nation this week he is serious about the increases fees, describing as "very unfair" the current situation in which drivers are only charged at one point along the motorway.

comurphy@herald.ie