Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 14 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Local Authority Funding.
Mr. O’Dowd Mr. O’Dowd
625. Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has satisfied himself that the level of different waste collection charges in different counties is fair and equitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5374/06]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: Waste management services have traditionally been provided at a local level, with individual arrangements being locally determined and tailored to local circumstances. Under section 52 of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, the determination of waste management charges is a matter for the relevant local authority, where it acts as the service provider. Similarly, where a private operator provides the collection service, it is a matter for that operator to determine charges.
Waste collection is inherently a local service, and one in which central government has not intervened directly. Consequently, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has at no time exercised a function in determining waste management charges, or any associated waiver arrangements. Local authorities are empowered under the Waste Management Acts to set charges for the waste collection  services which they provide. Where a local authority does not directly provide a collection service, the determination of charges is a matter for the service provider concerned.
However, all service providers were asked to move to use-based charging from January 2005. This is in line with the polluter pays principle and encourages customers to better control the amount of their charges by availing of an increased number of recycling options. These new pay-by-use charging systems have the potential to significantly minimise the burden of waste charges by permitting a “pay-as-you-go” arrangement. In addition, as a means of promoting recycling, the Department makes a significant level of funding available to local authorities to increase the range of waste recycling infrastructure available to householders.
Historically, waste charges were pitched at a low level. However, waste charges have risen in recent years as local authorities, in line with the polluter pays principle, have moved towards full cost recovery for waste management services. In addition, waste charges have risen due to the higher environmental standards which are now being demanded by the regulatory authorities and society generally. This includes costs associated with the proper operation of landfills, their closure and ongoing management thereafter, as well as the need to contribute to the costs of the provision of appropriate recycling facilities.
I am giving consideration to the overall regulation of the waste management sector including whether, and to what extent, there might be a need to identify public service obligations appropriate to service providers.
Dáil Éireann 614 Written Answers. Local Authority Funding.