Sunday 4 December 2016

What are Coveney's options?

Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30

Simon Coveney is now confronted with enormous public disquiet over the charges, which the previous administration promised would not result in higher bills for most families. Photography: RollingNews.ie
Simon Coveney is now confronted with enormous public disquiet over the charges, which the previous administration promised would not result in higher bills for most families. Photography: RollingNews.ie

Pay-by-weight bin charges were due to be introduced on July 1 last year, but delayed amid concerns that the new system could be viewed as an additional tax. It was also postponed for a year to give the industry and households more time to prepare, something which has clearly failed to happen.

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Housing, Planning and Local Government Minister Simon Coveney is now confronted with enormous public disquiet over the charges, which the previous administration promised would not result in higher bills for most families.

He has a number of options to take the sting out of the controversy, but they could prove difficult to enforce.

He could seek to introduce regulations to cap the maximum charge through new legislation or regulations, but it is far from clear whether imposing a cap on a service provided by the private sector is legal, or possible to enforce.

However, this could be made easier as it appears most of the operators appear agreeable to this proposal, at least for the next 12 months.

He could also introduce regulations to impose a maximum standing charge on all customers, or force companies to set out how it's calculated. He could also scrap the proposed system, and allow companies to charge what they like. This is unlikely, given we face a legal obligation to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

It is far from clear whether the proposed system will go ahead as planned, and the minister has so far refused to confirm it will. An announcement is expected today, but the public will take some convincing that the new charges are fair or reasonable.

Irish Independent

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