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Gilmore: Water charges will not be introduced next January

The Tánaiste says charges won’t be introduced before meters are installed, and that won’t be done in the next nine months.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said the introduction of domestic water charges will not take place next January, as had been expected – because charges will not be introduced before meters have been installed.

Beginning a trade mission to Turkey, Gilmore said it was his understanding that the government would not proceed with the introduction of charges until a metering system was in place to accurately measure the usage at each property.

This would not be ready by January, Gilmore said – with RTÉ quoting him telling reporters that it would “take some time”.

Two months ago estimates from the Department of the Environment suggested that the installation of one million domestic water meters would begin this July – but not be completed until September 2016.

In the meantime, it was thought that charges would be introduced from next year, with charges issued on an ‘estimated’ basis depending on the size of a house and the number of people living there.

Gilmore’s comments come only days after environment minister Phil Hogan seemed to indicate that charges would come into effect from next January – citing the demands of the EU-IMF Troika.

“Part of the Troika agreement with the government… is that from the first of January, 2014, is when water charges will commence, and that’s the position as of now,” Hogan told last Thursday’s News at One.

He said this was the working date for the foundation of Irish Water, the body which will oversee and collect water charges, “until we hear otherwise”.

It was up to the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure to secure the Troika’s approval to change this, they said.

Irrespective of the date on which charges are first introduced – whether on a metered or estimated basis – the government must first decide how much it wants to bring in through water charges each year, and allocate a nominal allowance for which households would not be charged.

A public consultation on the amount of the charges is expected from the Commission for Energy Regulation later this year.

Read: Water charges will be read digitally

More: Irish government ‘fears boycott of new water charges’

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Gavan Reilly

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