€750M water investment cut with no reform will end up costing taxpayer in fines and leakage – Hayes

The €750 million cut in the water investment programme announced recently by John Gormley and the Government could end up costing the taxpayer a fortune in fines and leakage according to South Tipperary T.D.Tom Hayes.

Tom Hayes T.D. said that instead of neglecting to invest in our water infrastructure and suffering fines under the EU Water Directive, the Government should adopt Fine Gael’s proposal to transfer responsibility for our water to a single semi-State company which could drive the much needed investment.

“It is clear that Minister Gormley is happy for the Irish taxpayer to pay fines to Europe instead of investing in our water infrastructure.

“This reduction of €750 million compared to what was pledged in the National Development Plan will see our water infrastructure continue to leak water at an alarming rate. It was only months ago that it was revealed that parts of the country including South Tipperary suffer a 50% leakage rate. Now, instead of plugging this, the Government has slashed funding without putting in place alternative funding mechanisms like a semi-State water utility company. As a result Ireland is at serious danger of suffering fines for breaches of the EU Water Directive.

“Fine Gael proposed a better way in our NewERA plan that would allow the country to make savings while at the same time improving the quality of our water. We want to see responsibility for investment in critical water infrastructure transferred into a new semi-State water company, Irish Water, that would take huge borrowing commitments off the Government books.

“This water company would be better placed to make efficiency savings rather than having 34 local authorities fight over scarce resources. The ESRI already backs the Fine Gael approach and, instead of hurting the Irish taxpayer, Fianna Fáil and the Greens should adopt the FG plan.”

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