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Government will end up charging for every drop of water – Ó Snodaigh

16 June, 2011 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking in the Dáil today on Sinn Féin’s Private Member’s Motion on Water Charges Aengus Ó Snodaigh said the Government’s plan to provide a free allowance and charge for over usage is not permissible under the EU Water Directive.

He said the Government will end up charging people for every drop of water used.

He said:

“The government are cynically using the promise of meters with a free allowance rather than being honest and acknowledging that this has nothing to do with conservation and that rather its simply about raising revenue.

“To this end they have promised charges will only hit those who waste water. ‘Don’t worry’ Labour and Fine Gael spokespersons promise ‘you will not suffer if you use water in a responsible way’.

“There are a number of problems with this. Number One – a free allocation plus charges model is not permissible under the EU Water Directive which mandates full cost recovery from the consumer. The only reason domestic users are not charged the full whack upfront right now is because Ireland secured a derogation from the Directive for our established practice of paying for water through general taxation.

“A meter, free allocation plus charges model would constitute new and not established practice therefore we would fast come under European Commission pressure to charge domestic users the full rate for every single drop they use.

“I have sought legal advice and under the terms of the Directive I am assured by my advisors that it is pretty much a case of charge for all domestic water use or charge for none of it – the free allocation plus charges model as described by this government is more than likely not an option.

“Neither this government nor the last one who came up with the plan have even sought advice on this from the Attorney General and yet they continue to promote a water charging model that may prove legally impermissible. They are happy to commit to spend one billion euro on installing meters which will be used to charge families for every last drop.” ENDS

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