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Friday 2 December 2016

Revealed: The experts tasked with solving the water charges debacle

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

Published 29/06/2016 | 16:57

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

A former Scottish minister, an academic lawyer, an economist and a Dutch consultant are among the experts who have been tasked with resolving the water charges debacle.

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Former senator Joe O’Toole is to chair the commission which has been given a November deadline to deliver a report to a special Oireachtas committee.

It will be made up of eight independent members and an independent secretariat will be provided by the Institute of Public Administration.

The members of the Commission are:

·         Dr Xavier Leflaive of the Environmental Directorate of the OECD;

·         Mr Peter Peacock, Chair of the Customer Forum for Water Scotland and former Scottish Minister;

·         Mr Bill Emery, Chair of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator;

·         Mr Brendan O’Mahony, Chair of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes;

·         Ms Sarah Hendry, academic lawyer specialising in water and environmental law, University of Dundee, Scotland;

·         Dr. Andrew Kelly, founder and executive Director of EnvEcon and Environmental Economist; and

·         Ms Gritta Nottelman, strategy consultant for Waternet, the only water company in the Netherlands that is dedicated to the entire water cycle.

In a statement Housing Minsiter Simon Coveney said: "I have chosen people who I consider to have the necessary professional expertise in environmental matters, law, economics, the customer perspective, the water sector and the regulatory system, and I have included a mix of both national and international experts.

Once their report is brought back to the Oireachtas there will be a three month period before the committee must bring recommendations to the Dáil.

And the Oireachtas will then have one period to consider on those suggestions, meaning TDs will finally vote on the future of charges in March 2017.

The Commission terms of reference state that the members must assess and make recommendations of domestic public water services and improvements in water quality.

They will take into account issues such as maintenance, the future of Irish Water in State ownership, the needs to encourage water conservation and the role of the regulator.

Third parties will be able to make submissions to the expert group.

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