Saturday 22 July 2017

Householders will 'not be ripped off' by new bin charges - Minister Coveney explains his waste mission

John Ward, Walkinstown, demonstrates against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
John Ward, Walkinstown, demonstrates against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Case Study: Trevor Conlon, Clondalkin.Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Paul Murphy TD with megaphone. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Brigid Bergin-Mooney, Kingswood. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Paul Murphy TD with megaphone.Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney gives a press conference.Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Teresa Kiely (49), inset, was travelling with her daughter in another car in the day

Andrew Phelan

MINISTER Simon Coveney has moved to assure householders they will “not be ripped off” by the new bin charges, after opponents staged a protest as he arrived for a meeting at council offices in Dublin.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government said a proposed 12-month cap on charges would not simply be left to waste management companies to agree to on a voluntary basis.

He said he would be meeting with the Attorney General later tonight to discuss the legal issues involved.

The Minister was speaking before a behind-closed-doors briefing on the controversial new pay-by-weight bin charges with south Dublin County Council this afternoon.

Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor

The new scheme is due to begin on July 1, with some customers saying their bills for waste will soar.

Minister Coveney arrived at the council’s headquarters in Tallaght an hour before the local authority’s monthly meeting was due to begin.

He greeted councillors and officials at the door amid chants from the gathered protesters of, “Simon Coveney, hear us clear - we don’t want your charges here.”

The Minister then spoke to the press following an in-camera briefing with the council.

Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Around 30 people attended the protest which was organised by the Anti Austerity Alliance.

“What we are now doing is we are trying to transition from what we have at the moment, which is in some cases flat rate charging, in some cases a lift charge, in some cases there is already pay by weight in, and we want all waste management companies to offer customers pay by weight in their charge,” the Minister said.

Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Paul Murphy TD with megaphone. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Paul Murphy TD with megaphone. Photo: Doug O'Connor

“It’s good for the environment, it’s good for households because by recycling and reusing their waste they can reduce their charges, it’s good for landfill because we are trying to reduce the volumes of unnecessary waste going into landfill because it’s expensive.

“My job is to try to manage that transition in a way that will ensure that households are not going to get ripped off,” he continued.

Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Simon Coveney presence at Council meeting attracts activists demonstrating against the bin charges. Photo: Doug O'Connor

He said he wanted to ensure the change in the structure of charges was not going to be abused by any company to increase charges.

“That is why I have asked the industry to agree to a cap on charges, that way we can reassure people that nobody will pay more next year than they did this year,” he said.

“There are people out there protesting and I’m not sure what they are asking for. The experience around pay by weight has been a very positive one. Most importantly, for householders who engage in it, they reduce their bills.”

He said about 20pc of Irish households were operating on a pay-by-weight system and he believed very few would change away from that.

“We need to get rid of the distrust and concern around charges," he said.

"There are legalities here that need to be gone through, we are not simply going asking the industry on a voluntary basis.

"I want to be sure that what I ask is actually followed through on and in that respect I want to take a little bit more advice from the Attorney General’s office this evening before we announce what we are going to do tomorrow.”

Minister Coveney said he also needed to speak to the industry again this evening, following a meeting last Friday.

“I want to work in partnership here in a way that is good for households. I am not going to let households feel they are being ripped off, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

“What we need to do is facilitate a period of time where people can see for themselves that pay by weight makes sense. I think over a 12-month period we can do that, it’s my intention to make that a reality tomorrow.”

Outside, Paul Murphy TD (AAA) said legislation should be brought in to prevent charges being raised but said opponents ultimately wanted the privatisation of the service to be reversed and for it to be returned to local authorities.

“We are saying the massive hike in charges is completely unacceptable, people can’t afford to pay,” Mr Murphy said.

“(Mr Coveney) is the minister responsible, he has to resolve the problem. The proposal to cap the charges involves a voluntary agreement with the companies, they can break it,” he said.

Mr Murphy stressed that opponents had a “a problem with bin charges full stop.”

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