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Government insists only 300,000 homes won't have meters

But this number will come down significantly in the coming years, according to the Department of the Environment.

Image: jcarlosn via Flickr/Creative Commons

ESTIMATES FROM THE Department of the Environment show that just 300,000 homes will not be fitted with water meters during the initial installation phase this year.

The figure is in stark contrast to those cited by a Dublin City Council manager on the front page of today’s Irish Times. Tom Leahy told the newspaper that one-third of Dublin homes liable for water charges are not suitable for meters and that those numbers will be reflected across other areas of Ireland.

That would mean over half a million households would be subject to a standing charge, leaving the Government open to criticism that the measures will not help reduce water wastage.

A spokeswoman for the department rejected the reports and told TheJournal.ie that a maximum of 300,000 homes will not receive meters during the first phase of installation but that number will “come down significantly” over the next few years.

However, she added that the installation of meters is ultimately a matter for Irish Water – the State body yet to be established to oversee the delivery of water services across Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the environment Brian Stanley has called the installation plans “another political disaster” for the Fine Gael-led Government.

Commenting on today’s reports that homes unsuitable for metering will be liable for a flat charge, the Sinn Féin TD said the new fees will have nothing to do with conservation and “everything to do with charging people for water they already pay for through their taxes”.

Fianna Fáil’s Environment spokesperson also criticised the situation, saying that is was descending into “a farce”. Niall Collins called on the Minister to “step back, publish the full business case relating to water reform and universal metering, and allow full public debate before proceeding further or incurring more cost.”

Minister Phil Hogan has confirmed that there will be no charge for the installation of the meter and the first bills for water services will be delivered in 2014.

The latest Ipsos/MRBI poll for the Irish Times shows the public is strongly opposed to the use of household charges as an alternative to a rise in income tax.

17 questions (and answers) about those new water charges>

Expect your first water bill in late 2014, says Phil Hogan>

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