The recent avalanche of parking tickets, as revealed by the Belfast Telegraph, is forcing motorists away from towns and cities in Ulster, it's been claimed.
The British Parking Association, which represents the car parking industry, believes that Ulster was not properly prepared for the decriminalisation of parking enforcement. Almost £1m has been raised in parking fees in less than a month.
Recently this newspaper revealed that nearly 14,000 tickets had been issued by Northern Ireland's new parking attendants in less than a month since responsibility for enforcement passed from the police to the DRD.
A private company, NCP, hands out the £60 fines on behalf of the DRD.
A total of £822,600 worth of fines were handed out in just four weeks, sparking accusations that war was declared on motorists.
The British Parking Association is the largest body in Europe representing car parking organisations.
Its Northern Ireland chairman Tom Martin said he was concerned but not surprised by the flurry of tickets across Ulster.
He said: "Our belief is that Northern Ireland was not prepared for the decriminalisation of parking.
"There is simply not enough off-street parking in cities like Belfast. We need more car parks to be built.
"All this is achieving is to displace motorists from our towns and cities. It was premature to roll this out.
"While we agree with the decriminalisation argument, it was altogether predictable that we would see this increase in fines because there are simply not enough places for people to park.
"There was also not enough warning for the public that this was going to happen and that is why we are seeing this situation developing."
The DRD has insisted that its key objective in parking enforcement is to reduce the number of illegally parked vehicles on our streets, improving road safety, traffic flows and accessibility for all roads users.
It began working in partnership with the PSNI in 2002 on the process of changing parking infringements, and launched a public consultation in October 2003.
The work of the new parking attendants has been defended by Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan, who said extra parking tickets had benefited his town.
He said: "In Ballymena the scheme has been a success.
"There has been no backlash from the public. NCP has conducted its enforcement sensibly."
He said the town had introduced a new system which provides free half-hour parking spaces in the town centre.
"To make our scheme work, it was vital that the spaces should not be clogged up," he said. "There has to be rapid turnover. This needs consistent enforcement so that drivers know the score and adhere to the rules.
"So far traffic flow has been greatly improved and you can get a free parking space for a short time in the town centre."