125 complaints about Irish Water connection fees

125 complaints about Irish Water connection fees

Irish Water has revealed it has received 125 complaints in relation to connection charges applied to new builds over the past year — but all were rejected.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, Irish Water said it had received 6,488 applications to connect to the water and or wastewater network over the past 12 months.

The lowest charge for new build in the period has been for €10, as exemptions were applied as per local authority charges, while the highest charge for new build was €1.18m for a multi-unit residential development application.

Last month, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) published a report outlining a new connection charge process, based on Irish Water proposals, that would reduce considerably the fees payable by the majority of households seeking to connect to the mains supply.

The FOI response provided to the Irish Examiner said: “Irish Water has received 125 complaints and escalations in relation to connection process. The customer has the right to escalate the complaint to the CRU. Irish Water has had eight CRU complaints regarding connection charges in the past 12 months. To date all have been deemed as correctly calculated and charged by Irish Water.

“Irish Water and the CRU recognise the inconsistencies and unfairness of the current charging model and CRU directed Irish Water to complete a review of these charges and propose an enduring Connection Charging Policy.”

Last January, the CRU launched a 10-week consultation on a national connection charging policy proposed by Irish Water. Having published a position paper on it last month, it is expected that a new connection charging policy will apply nationally from early next year, replacing the current interim connection charging regimes.

Irish Water said it is currently running a “business as usual” approach to the connections charging process, meaning that, if planning permission was granted pre-2014, Irish Water invoices and collect the Works Fee element of the charge only. If planning permission was granted post-2014, Irish Water invoices and collects all infrastructure fees.

The utility said there are currently 57 different charging regimes with more than 900 different connection charges across the 31 local authorities and that “all charging regimes have different methods for calculating connection charges, including different structures and customer classifications”.

It said that the methodology for calculating the charges “can vary significantly” and may include a per unit charge regardless of floor area, a per unit charge based on total floor areas, a range of floor areas, or a per dwelling equivalent for business customers.

A charge can also be based on the level of service provided by the local authority.

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