European Commission questions NI water charges decision

This is fourth in the series looking at articles relating to water charges in Northern Ireland.  The BBC article is dated August 22 2016.  It was published after Britain's EU referendum June 2016 but before Teresa May triggered Article 50 March 2017.  The point about timing is how would Brexit affect this EU pilot case or indeed Stormont's commitment to the EU Water Framework Directive.  Wouldn't it be interesting to find out the outcome?

We have contacted the EU Commission Representative for NI (incidentally in London) about any outcomes and as soon as we get their answer, if any, we will let you know. 

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European Commission questions NI water charges decision

By Conor Macauley BBC NI
Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

The European Commission has asked questions about the Northern Ireland Executive's decision not to charge homeowners for water.

Stormont officials have refused to give any details citing confidentiality.

Homeowners will not face bills until at least March 2017, after MLAs ruled to defer charges.

Instead, the executive pays the cost of £280m a year to NI Water. Further legislation is expected to extend the policy.

However, the decision could mean that the authorities are not complying with European rules on water quality.

The EU Water Framework Directive envisages that users should pay for their water to promote conservation.

'Pilot case'

Officials in Northern Ireland make the case that people do that through their regional rate.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to levy a charge on homes, although businesses do pay charges.

That has prompted a debate with calls for the introduction of a charge on homes to pay for improvements in infrastructure.

Now, the European Commission has opened a so-called "pilot case" to look at the issue.

Essentially, this is a way for the commission to establish whether EU rules are being correctly applied.

It allows for the commission and member states to resolve any conflicts without resorting to infringement proceedings.

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said it could not comment on the detail of the case.

"It is the subject of a confidential dialogue with the Commission and the release of further details could potentially prejudice the outcome of those discussions," said the department.

The two sides get about 20 weeks to try and sort out their differences.

Many cases are resolved without going to a formal hearing.

Source: BBC News NI, Aug 22 2016


CER announces extension of water charges plan to 31 December 2017

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) announced on 10 August 2017 that it approved Irish Waters Charges Plan update that extends the deadline for suspension of domestic water charges to 31 December 2017.

 
 

The announcement made on CER website states:

The CER has today, 10 August 2017, published an updated version of Irish Water’s Water Charges Plan. This document has been approved by the CER. 
 
The document has been updated by Irish Water to reflect an extension (through legislation) of the period for which domestic water charges are suspended. The period of suspension has been extended by five months to 31 December 2017. Please note that this Water Charges Plan does not reflect the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services, published last April. Further amendments to the Water Charges Plan may be required at a later date pending the legislative changes anticipated following that report.
Today’s publication, 10 August 2017, supersedes any previous Water Charges Plans.
For details regarding the legislation which provided for the extension to 31 December 2017, please see the Water Services Act 2014 (Extension of Suspension of Domestic Water Charges) (Amendment) Order 2017 or S.I No. 330 of 2017.
Charges were originally suspended to 31 March 2017 by the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2016, and this was subsequently extended to 31 July 2017 by Water Services Act 2014 (Extension of Suspension of Domestic Water Charges) Order 2017 or S.I. No. 118 of 2017. These pieces of legislation are available on www.irishstatutebook.ie.
 

Source:  http://www.cer.ie/document-detail/Irish-Waters-Updated-Water-Charges-Plan-2017/1175

 


Irish Minister signed Order to hand over 419 sites to Irish Water July 21st 2017

A Statutory Instruments Order S.I. No. 329 of 2017, named the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 (Property Vesting Day) (No.10) Order 2017, was published on July 27th 2017. It was signed by Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and came into effect on July 21st 2017.


″This Statutory Instrument gives effect to the decision of the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to transfer the property listed in the schedule to the Order from water services authorities to Irish Water in accordance with section 12 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013.″

The Eddie Fullerton Dam, Illies, Co Donegal

The Eddie Fullerton Dam, Illies, Co Donegal

 

WATER SERVICES (NO. 2) ACT 2013 (PROPERTY VESTING DAY)
ORDER 2017

I, EOGHAN MURPHY, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 12 (1) of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 (No. 50 of 2013), hereby make the following order:

1. This Order may be cited as the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 (Property Vesting Day) (No. 10) Order 2017.
2. The 21st July 2017 shall be a “property vesting day” for the purposes of section 12 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 (No. 50 of 2013).
3. On the property vesting day referred to in article 2, the property listed in the schedule to this Order, which immediately before this day was vested in a water services authority, shall stand vested in Irish Water.

The Schedule listed 419 property sites that were be handed over to Irish Water including reservoirs, waste waterworks and waterworks formerly controlled by local authorities.