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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020
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No water charge prices until at least the end of the year

The first water charge bills will be due in January 2015 but a decision on pricing won’t be taken before a report from the Commission for Energy Regulation.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has said that he ‘hopes to have’ details on a pricing structure for water charges by the end of the year but will not give a specific timeline.

The Government confirmed that the first water charge bills will be due in January 2015 but insists that a decision on pricing structure or a possible flat-rate for home owners will not be made before the completion of a report from the Commission for Energy Regulation.

Although the first bills will be due in early 2015 the charges will begin in October 2014 with the Department of the Environment announcing today that the newly established  ’Irish Water’ will operate across eight regional centres set up across three regions.

The centres will be staffed by between 18-32 people and will be made primarily of existing jobs from local authorities or the department. The results of a tendering process on the contracts for water metering will be announced on Friday when Irish Water’s website will also go live.

Speaking on the RTÉ News at One, Minister Hogan said that after the Government reached agreement with the Troika to defer the commencement of water charges, it decided to use the extra time to consider the pricing structure:

The regulator is examining these issues at the moment and we have some more time obviously to look at these issues and included in that would be free allowance, affordability issues, people that perhaps have a medical condition. All these issues are going to be taken into account by the regulator who will report to us in the autumn.

The Minster also described as “not acceptable” a situation where “40 per cent of the country’s water system is in bad shape”.

“Cynical and unfair”

Several opposition politicians have reacted angrily to lack of clarity in relation to the water charges with Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness “expressing alarm” that flat rate charges have not been ruled out:

This flies in the face of all of the spin surrounding the government’s plan to set up Irish Water. To date, the public fully expected to receive a free allocation of water where charges would only incur once usage went above this allocation.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor O’ Clochartaigh said that the deferral of the first water charge bill until 2015 was politically motivated:

In a cynical move the government is holding off until after next year’s local elections before anyone receives a bill. Fine Gael and the Labour Party know that to issue the bills before May would certainly mean a loss of council seats.

Read: Installation of new water meters to begin at the end of the month >

Read: Plan to cut pressure for those not paying for water a “bullyboy tactic” – SF >

Read: Confirmed: Troika agrees to delay water charges until 2015 >

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Rónán Duffy

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