Environment Minister Phil Hogan says he does not know what the final bill for the pyrite property scandal will be, but has dismissed claims it would be up to €460m.
He was responding to questions from Reform Alliance Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames who said the Government’s own report into the problem showed that 10,300 houses with pyrite problems had not yet been tested. The report also says the average cost of fixing each house was €45,000 — leaving the taxpayer with a potential future cost of €460m.
She pointed out that the 10,300 houses were in the same estates as the houses with chronic problems.
Mr Hogan, who has so far allocated €10m out of an earmarked €50m to address the problem in 1,000 homes, dismissed Ms Healy- Eames’s “speculative figures, drawn off the top of your head remarks”.
He said he had an independent panel review showed there were 850 to 1,000 homes in need of urgent works and there were around 74 estates which had serious issues. He described the redress scheme as “restrictive” and only helping those most need.
During second-stage Seanad debate on the Pyrite Resolution Bill 2013, Ms Healy-Eames said while she agreed the State must take charge of the issue, the minister must also ensure those responsible are made to bear the cost.
“It could come from, for example, the imposition of a levy on the construction and quarrying sectors and on the related insurance cover for those sectors or other similar sources.”
The minister said he agreed “the people that caused this problem should pay for it”. He assured the Seanad that he had explored every legal avenue to see if a levy could be imposed but wasn’t possible as it wasn’t “legally sound”.
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