Saturday 25 November 2017

Waste companies are divided on charges cap for pay-by-weight

Simon Coveney: pressure from TDs to defuse bins issue Photo: Tom Burke
Simon Coveney: pressure from TDs to defuse bins issue Photo: Tom Burke

Luke Byrne and Laura Larkin

Waste-management companies are divided in relation to a proposal by Housing Minister Simon Coveney to cap bin charges under the new pay-by-weight scheme.

The minister is due to meet with the Attorney General to discuss what steps he can take legally to address the fiasco.

The new scheme is due to begin on July 1, with some customers saying their bills for waste will soar.

It is unclear if Mr Coveney will now push ahead with plans to cap the amount that waste companies can charge for bins under the new scheme.

Following marathon talks with the industry on Friday, there has been a disjointed response to that proposal from waste-management companies.

"The minister will meet with the Attorney General and is keeping all his options open," a spokesman said, adding that he wasn't aware of any threat of a legal challenge to a cap on charges.

"Ideally, what the minister wants is that nobody pays any more than they did in the previous 12 months," said the spokesman.

"He (Mr Coveney) has taken the weekend to reflect on Friday's meeting and will be meeting again with the industry early in the week, either Monday or Tuesday."

There was a mixed reaction within the industry to the proposal of a 12-month cap, benchmarked against what the customer paid last year.

A senior official in one waste company, who did not wish to be named for fear of being seen as heading the industry response, described the reaction from waste companies as "disjointed".

"I think we are not all speaking with one voice here. But, most of the companies are against a charge cap.

"There is no threat of a legal challenge to such a cap yet and we are still positive that a solution can be found on this.

"From our point of view, we favour a system where the customer can choose to stay on their current scheme or go to pay-by-weight. Hopefully, they will see that on pay-by-weight money can be saved."

The Government is desperate to avoid another Irish Water-style crisis and Mr Coveney's ministerial colleagues are understood to have demanded that he deal with the growing pay-by-weight fiasco promptly.

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald would not be drawn as to her own opinions on the matter when asked yesterday if she would prefer to see a cap imposed on charges.


She said: "Minister Coveney will be addressing that in detail in the coming days, so I'll leave it to him to address that issue.

"Clearly, as a Government, what we felt was that it was very important that the spirit of the legislation was followed through in its implementation," she said.

"It was intended that over 85pc of households would see a reduction in their charges."

Ms Fitzgerald also refused to be drawn on whether a regulator could be established to oversee the waste industry.

Irish Independent

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