Political skill will be put to test - Pay-by-weight charges

ENVIRONMENT Minister Simon Coveney was acutely aware of the difficulties he faced when he sought the housing portfolio in government but he might not have anticipated an extra lip to that poisoned chalice in the form of bin charges.

The move to pay-by-weight prompted some waste collection firms to introduce huge hikes in charges and it looked like the inevitable outrage to follow would see the whole situation descend into another Irish Water fiasco.

There are many similarities. The need to fix our public water was evident and metering offered the best chance of ensuring that water was used prudently.

Equally, pay-by-weight will encourage householders to be more conscious of the need to recycle.

But when the changeover was seized upon by waste collection companies to raise charges, the prospect of another disaster loomed.

Mr Coveney has shown great political skill of late, being one of the main negotiators in the formation of the current government. He has now secured an agreement from some waste firms to cap charges at current levels for at least a year but others are insisting they cannot afford to do this.

Whether his efforts will be enough to keep anti-government forces at bay remain to be seen and Mr Coveney will need to do more than make promises to ensure he hasn’t simply put off the inevitable for another day.


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