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Saturday 7 December 2019

Hogan confirms €240 water charge – and says non-payment will reduce supply to 'a trickle'

Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Enda Kenny

John Downing and Aideen Sheehan

PEOPLE who do not pay their water charges will have their supply reduced to 'a trickle', Environment Minister Phil Hogan has warned.

The Coalition ended a two-month old row over concessions to be given to people on low incomes by agreeing a new compromise deal between Fine Gael and Labour.

The Environment Minister said the average family of four can expect to pay no more than €240 per year in water charges starting from next October.

But the Minister could not guarantee what price would apply after 2016.

"That will be a matter for the government of the day," Mr Hogan said.

The Government has agreed there will be no fixed or standing charge for householders  - but it will be up to the Energy Regulator to decide whether there will be such a standing charge for second homes or holiday homes.

People of low incomes will have a range of measures to reduce their bill through the welfare system.

Customers will get 'a first free fix' for leaks between their meter and their front door.

The Government has also pledged a big increase in the rate at which homes are being metered.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the average household charge of €240 a year but could be reduced by conserving water.

“There have been a lot of very constructive discussions between the two parties and we expect to be able conclude the matter today.”

“People are never happy I suppose with any new charge, but this is a case of where you’re spending €1.2bn on production of water and 40pc of it is leaking away,” he said following an IBEC Retail Ireland conference.

“Water is one natural resource that has been very much abused in this country, taps left running needlessly for hours when they don’t need to be, so the water metering programme is a conservation measure in itself.

“The average metered charge will be about €60 per quarter, it doesn’t have to be that if people are clear about the conservation that they can take by turning off the tap.”

Asked if Labour had achieved more on water charges than Fine Gael, Mr Kenny said the discussions had been about making the new charge as fair and affordable as possible.

The Taoiseach said the country could no longer spend €1.2bn a year on water and have 40pc of it leaking away as it would be like filling your car with petrol that constantly leaked away.

“If you put 50 litres in your tank on a Monday morning come back on Friday and say I’m sorry 20 litres has leaked away, and you’re supposed to do the same again the next week, and the week after and the year after … that’s the way we’ve been going on and I’m planning to put an end to that,” he said.

Business and consumers had to conserve water in future and it was about time to put infrastructure to cater for the next 50 years.

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