Brian Hayes MEP

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European Commission insists that Expert Water Group should get on with its report and make recommendations on water pricing – Hayes

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European Commission insists that Expert Water Group should get on with its report and make recommendations on water pricing – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP for Dublin todaysaid that the European Commission has stuck to its line that Ireland must adhere to water charges in line with the Water Framework Directive, following a response he received from Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

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“It is welcome that the European Commission has now publicly stated its view on the Expert Water Commission. The European Commission insist that the Expert Group must ‘get on’ with its task and make recommendations for a water pricing policy in line with the Water Framework Directive.

“For the Commission, a water pricing policy means that there has to be some kind of a water charge based on consumption. This is the established practice that Ireland has adopted since domestic water charges were introduced in 2015. We no longer have a derogation which exempts us from water charges as the Commission has already clarified in previous communications.

“Into the future, if we are to comply with the ‘polluter pays’ principle in the Water Framework Directive, a principle which incentivizes households and businesses to use water resources efficiently, I don’t see any alternative to water charges. This is about protecting our environment and about treating water as a precious commodity.

“The debate about Irish Water has lost sight of the real issue at stake – Ireland’s water supply. I firmly believe that to have an adequate water supply system, we need a public utility that has the essential purpose of fixing our water infrastructure and developing our water needs into the future.

“The European Commission, as it sets out in its response, sees it as crucial that Ireland sets out coherent ways to finance the necessary improvements in water quality and infrastructure.

“As it stands, our water system is not fit for purpose. The EPA did a study in 2011 that showed that only about 50% of Ireland’s surface water bodies meet the Water Framework Directive’s criteria for high or good status. The 2004 Drinking Water report found that 16% of the population was served by at-risk supplies. Irish Water has committed to investing €5.5 billion over 7 years to bring our water infrastructure to acceptable levels.”

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