Monday 9 December 2019

Coveney is set to freeze bin charges

Minister moves to avoid Irish Water-style fiasco

Environment Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Environment Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke

Philip Ryan Political Correspondent

Environment Minister Simon Coveney plans to freeze bin charges in an attempt to quell public anger and prevent the fiasco surrounding waste collection developing into the next Irish Water.

After a week of political turmoil over waste companies hiking prices ahead of introduction new pay-by-weight charges, Mr Coveney has decided to cap charges for at least 12 months.

Households fearing rate increases will now see charges capped against what they paid last year for waste collection. However, they will still be able to cut costs by reducing the weight of the rubbish put into their bins.

Government TDs were inundated with calls from constituents over the past two weeks as companies increased their charges ahead of the introduction of the pay-by-weight system.

Opposition politicians seized on the public fury and called on the Government to suspend the new legislation to stop firms from ripping off customers.

In response, Mr Coveney demanded an urgent meeting with the waste collection industry on Friday night in an effort to address the situation before it escalated into another Irish Water controversy.

It is understood there were frank exchanges between waste management chiefs and the minister over the introduction of pay caps during a tense meeting in Athlone, Westmeath.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent after the meeting, Mr Coveney said he agreed in principle with the industry to cap charges ahead of the new system coming into place on July 1.

"What we need is time to reassure people that this isn't some sort of trick to increase charges or a privatisation agenda," the minister said.

"This is just a better way of charging for waste that encourages people to recycle, reuse and compost their waste and rewards them financial for doing that.

"For at least a year we are going to cap charges to make sure no one feels they are being ripped off while hopefully lots of people see the opportunity and more people buy into it," he added.

After consultation with his department and Government colleagues, Mr Coveney will tomorrow return to the industry with a proposal on how the freeze will work.

The industry also agreed not to charge by weight for the collection of incontinence nappies used by adults or people with disabilities.

Sunday Independent

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