Tuesday 24 October 2017

Irish Water 'showing contempt' for Dail committee after no information submitted on charges

Labour TD Kevin Humphries
Labour TD Kevin Humphries

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

Proposed free water allowances for children will only be reduced if Irish Water can justify it, the Oireachtas Environment Committee has been told.

It has been confirmed that Irish Water has sought to reduce what it has called the 'unrealistic allowance' of 38,000 a year per child, but the Energy Regulator has said this will only be granted if it is merited.

Irish Water has been severely criticised for "showing contempt" for the committee, after it failed to provide details on water charges as expected.

The committee has been denied key information today about how much people will be charged for water and a hearing today was thrown into farce given Irish Water's failure.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) said that it had not received the required documentation from Irish Water in  time for the meeting, despite having written to them requesting the information.

Acting committee chairman,  Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen expressed his anger and disappointment at what he called the latest broken commitment given by the super quango.

He said at the committee: "I wish to place on record our disappointment,  that the final submission on charges from Irish Water has not been received. We would have hoped to have been privy to it, and had hoped to ask questions on it."

Mr Cowen said that this is the second time that you were given a commitment by Irish Water. "I don't want to mince my words, we are disappointment some are angered. We are at a loss today.

That has been delayed further, this is the latest in a series of delays," he said.

Committee member and Labour TD Kevin Humphries said Irish Water is "showing contempt" toward the committee saying the meeting was a "waste of time" without the charges documentation from Irish Water.

The CER said they shared the committee's disappointment with Irish Water's failure to provide the details of tariffs.

The committee heard that because of Government policy, the average bill for households will be €240 a year until the end of 2016. The CER said that as this is the average, some homes will pay more and some will pay less.

The committee was also told that those people without meters who use less water than what they pay under an assessed charge will be entitled to a rebate.

The CER also said that customers who have had meters installed prior to 1st Oct ‘14 will have their usage capped at the level of the assessed charge for a period of 6 months, or until they have their pipes repaired under the Government's first fix programme.

The CER also laid out the principles  and objectives it has imposed on Irish Water.

It has demanded that charges are equitable and that there is a policy of non-discrimination. It must promote efficiency in use of water services.

Bills reflecting separate line items for water and wastewater calculate services on a 50/50 basis, and that there is no standing charge. The hearing continues.

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