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Fix pyrite homes or you will face big fines warns Hogan

BUILDERS and insurers have been given just 10 days to come up with acceptable proposals to pay for repairs to new homes damaged by pyrite.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has warned developers, insurance companies, and quarry owners he will impose levies on them if they do not produce a reasonable plan to fix up to 11,000 homes damaged by pyrite contamination of building materials.

He is threatening to hit the industry with a levy to foot the €500m repair bill.

Homeowners "have suffered far too long from this problem" and the time has run out for coming up with robust proposals to solve the problem, he warned.

Pyrite, a natural mineral found in stone, becomes unstable when exposed to air or water. It has caused cracking, splitting and buckling of walls, floors and ceilings in an estimated 12,000 homes.

New homes damaged by pyrite can cost an average of €45,000 each to fix.

A deadline of September 30 imposed on the construction and insurance industry failed to result in a workable solution.

The minister said he was disappointed with proposals he received and has demanded new proposals immediately.

The 'Pyrite Panel' report found that up to 12,250 homes were potentially exposed to pyrite. Around 1,100 homes have been fixed by builders.



Frustrated

But of the 11,150 homes remaining, 850 require immediate repairs and a further 10,300 could require repairs in the future.

The minister declared the priority must be to deal with the 850 dwellings in need of immediate remediation and put a "green, red and amber" system in place to repair damage in the remaining homes as it emerged.

Badly hit homeowners are frustrated, however, as they do not want to live any longer with their pyrite problem.

Junior Agriculture Minister Shane McEntee said the Government's plan to set up an industry-funded pyrite-repair scheme was better than going down the legal route.

Most of the homes affected are in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Offaly. The building material containing pyrite came from certain quarries.

The ministerial ultimatum to builders and insurers came as dozens of homeowners protested outside the Dail.

Sandra Lewis, secretary of the Pyrite Action group, told the Herald: "We have been very badly let down by so many. We want Minister Hogan to honour his promise to enforce a solution on those responsible...We want the Government to take control and manage this problem immediately."

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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