Companies warned to maintain price freeze

Environment Minister Simon Coveney is hoping to press ahead with legislation to introduce a mandatory cap on bin charges with or without the agreement of bin companies.

Environment Minister Simon Coveney has warned bin companies to maintain a price freeze for a year, after an agreement was reached for the mandatory introduction of pay by weight bin charges to be deferred by a year.

Though he was still finalising a deal with bin companies last night, it is expected that a pay freeze will be agreed upon when it comes before Cabinet this morning.

Under the deal being hammered out last night bin companies will maintain a price freeze for the next 12 months, which will be based on households’ last bill.

Although Mr Coveney is hopeful that all refuse companies will agree to the price freeze, last night he warned that if there is any evidence of this agreement being breached then he would introduce primary legislation to enforce this.

Mr Coveney was forced to act after it emerged that many households may face massive hikes in bin fees when the new charges are introduced.

Fianna Fáil are expected to back the package and last night Barry Cowen, the party’s, environment spokesman said: “When we raised it last Thursday we said we want it addressed and the loophole needed to be closed.”

He said given that some of the main operators are not part of the Irish Waste Management Association which was in talks with Mr Coveney, legislation would be required to ensure that all companies do not use the new system to hike up charges.

The issue of bin charges will also be raised by the AAA-PBP in a Dáil motion tonight.

Paul Murphy of the AAA- PBP said: “Temporary is not a solution and we won’t accept a 12-month cap as a solution as it’s an attempt to kick to touch on the issue. Secondly we wouldn’t accept anything that isn’t based on a statutory instrument or on legislation of some form because everything else is voluntary and we just don’t trust these companies.”

Sinn Féin are to bring a motion before the Seanad tomorrow to annul the charges and last night urged Fianna Fáil to vote with them.

The Upper House has the power to annul a ministerial order voted in by the Dáil within 21 sitting days.

Speaking at South Dublin County Council offices ahead of a council meeting yesterday he said his job is to ensure that the new system is not being abused or used as a way of increasing charges. “That’s why I have asked the industry to agree to a cap on charges so that we can reassure people that nobody would pay more next year than they would this year,” he said.

He said there is a lack of trust in the new system and there is now a need to assure people “I think we can do that by requiring that a cap be put in place,” Mr Coveney said. “But it is not as straight forward as that because there are legalities there that we need to get through, we are not simply going to ask the industry on a voluntary basis to do this.

“I want to be sure that what we ask for is actually followed through on and from that perspective I have to take a little bit more advice from the Attorney General’s office,” he said.


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