WATER charges look more likely, after the Government’s high-level group on a “green economy” recommended introducing the household rates on a pay per use basis for households.
A number of “green” industrial estates and a green version of Dublin’s IFSC — to tap into the world of carbon trading and sustainable investment — have also been recommended in the report published yesterday.
The Government previously indicated it would prefer introducing flat-rate charges, but a report by its own policy group recommended “the introduction of volumetric treated water charges for domestic users” and “fully reflective charges for non-domestic consumers”.
Paying for tap water was one area of disagreement between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in forming its revised Programme for Government which eventually agreed to allocate households with a basic water allowance and charging for what is used after that.
The report Developing the Green Economy in Ireland said introducing water metres would “create incentives to use water more efficiently and, thereby, create a market for water efficiency and goods and services with future export potential”.
At least 80,000 “green jobs” could be created over the next decade, including at least 50,000 in renewable energy, said the report.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said a “green-tech” economy was the best bet for lifting the country out of the recession: “In difficult times, we should hold certain confidence that actually going green in this country, a green island turning into a green economy, is our opportunity,” he said.
Launching the report, Mr Ryan said 15,400 jobs have already been created in the past two years as a result of a switch towards sustainable and renewable technologies.
These include jobs in energy, bio-fuels, insulation, green technology, but also include posts in so-called eco-friendly supermarkets or offices opened recently.
The report also recommended a relaxing of planning laws for wind farms and cheaper bank loans for businesses making environmentally friendly products.
The opposition dismissed the report as a re-run of previously published Government policy which has never been delivered.
Labour’s Liz McManus said much of what is in the report is known already. “This is just a re-statement of government policy. There is little new in the latest policy update from the minister, and it shows how poor the Government performance is in exploiting and expanding a dynamic area in job creation beyond the tired and stated positions already taken.”
Simon Coveney, Fine Gael, said the Government launch was of a report “from an action group set up as part of another action plan whose proposals still haven’t seen the light of day”.
“The recommendations in this report make sense, but what we need from a Government is a programme of delivery not more reports and analysis.”
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