Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Why there could be a nationwide revolt by farmers against water meters

Michael Noonan labelled water charges a “dead cat” and urged his party to get it off the agenda. Stock picture
Michael Noonan labelled water charges a “dead cat” and urged his party to get it off the agenda. Stock picture
ICMSA president John Comer

Martin Ryan

Momentum for a nationwide revolt by farmers against water meters is building up, with charges branded as "unjust".

Irish Water has confirmed they are billing farmers off a maze of as many as 500 different rates for meters and water across the country.

Calls have been made for a unified national campaign against the water meter charges after household water bills were scrapped. The Limerick branch of the IFA plans to bring a motion to its National Council to endorse the demand for the dropping of meter charges.

Donal O'Brien, a former member of the IFA National Livestock Committee, has urged farmers to join in a unified national campaign against meter charges as farmers are being "singled out for unjustified charges".

"It is totally unfair that farmers are being charged hundreds of euro per year for meter rent, even if the water is only used for domestic purposes, while there is no charge on other domestic use customers - that is not fair," he said.

Meters

"Farmers should pay for any water that is used for farm purposes, but we are not going to pay for meters, which are being levied whether we use water or not. That has to stop now." The ICMSA has branded the regime of water meter charges on farmers as "draconian", with some paying up to €200/yr.

Irish Water confirmed 500 different tariffs apply to businesses following the takeover from the 34 local authorities. A new tariff structure from the Commission for Energy Regulation is expected to take a number of years.

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ICMSA president John Comer said in fragmented holdings, farmers have multiple meters. "On top of paying a per-litre charge for water, they should not have to pay a charge per meter."

He said, in the beginning, the only people specifically paying for their water, whether through group schemes or sinking wells, were rural communities and farmers - and that remains the same today.


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