Their detractors laugh at them, but those who drive electric cars swear by them. And now they are having the last laugh. For the Palma city council has just voted in favour of cutting the road tax on electric and solar powered vehicles by 50 percent. The measure, proposed by the United Left and Greens, will come into force next year. However, this generous proposal will not make a very big dent in the council's coffers as there are very few electric cars in Palma, and no solar powered ones at all. In fact, the demand for the electric cars has not been as big as expected since they were presented in Madrid by minister Isabel Tocino three years ago. Local drivers will also benefit from a 50 percent cut in the road tax depending on the type of fuel their cars use, the characteristics of the engines and their effect on the environment. Since 1999, cars which are more than 25 years old have been exempt from the road tax, officially known as the impuesto municipal sobre vehículos de tracción mecánica. All these reductions are provided for in Law 50/1998 of fiscal and administrative measures. The city council approved another proposal from the same two parties plus the Majorcan Socialist Party, under which building firms will pay 50 per cent less for their works licence if they introduce water and energy saving facilities in their new buildings. They will include features such as individual water metres (most blocks of flats are on a community meter, which does not encourage water saving) or a storage tank in houses in the country. The original proposal was for an 80 percent reduction, but this was finally whittled down to 50 percent. At present, the building licence costs two per cent of the total cost of the work.

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