Business Irish

Sunday 24 September 2017

NTR chief eyeing up chance to tap into rollout of water meters in 2013

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

NTR, the company best-known for its toll roads, now wants to enter the running to bill us for turning on the tap.

The waste-to-energy conglomerate's chief executive Michael McNicholas said last week that the water company Celtic Anglian Water (CAW), in which NTR has a shareholding, would be interested in opportunities to roll out water meters to Irish households.

Water meters will start to be rolled out to Irish households next year as part of the Government's controversial move to introduce water charges. These charges are a condition of the €67.5bn EU-IMF bailout.

"The metering of Irish water opens up opportunities for Celtic Anglian Water," McNicholas told the Sunday Independent. "Celtic Anglian is well-positioned to provide those services."

CAW already provides water meters for business customers in Galway.

McNicholas said it could take between two and three years to roll out water meters across Ireland, depending on the technology used by Irish Water -- the company tasked with collecting water charges from households.

The Government has not yet said how much the water charges will be -- but recent estimates suggest the average household could face a water bill of between €250 and €400 a year. It's expected that households will also have to pay for their water meter -- most likely through an annual standing charge.

McNicholas also said that NTR could consider opportunities that might arise from the Government's €2.25bn infrastructure stimulus package, which was announced earlier this month.

"It depends on the structure of any public-private partnerships that come out of this package," said McNicholas.

"We'll wait and see what comes out."

NTR cut its losses for last year from €381m to €89m, according to financial results published by the company last week.

The company, which owns the waste management firm, Greenstar, said it had closed its operating landfills for the next three years because a hike in levies and competition from European incinerators made the sites uneconomical.

NTR was set up in 1978. Its main owners are chairman Tom Roche and his family, who hold a 39.61 per cent stake in the business, and Irish investment group One51, which owns 24.46 per cent.

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