Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Paying water grant to those who don’t ever intend on paying is “money down the drain”

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that by paying the €100 water conservation grant to those who do not intend on paying their water bill is as good as putting money down the drain.

The Ratoath based TD said “it is plain and simple wrong to pay the €100 water conservation grant to registered Irish Water customers who never intend on paying for their water services.

“There are 3 types of people with regard to Irish Water registered customers, 1) those who are happy to pay for water, 2) those who are dissatisfied with the manner in which Irish Water was set up but intend on paying for water, and, 3) those who have no intention to pay for water, ever!

“The fact of the matter is that there exists a group of people registered with Irish Water who will never pay their bill, grant or no grant, and issuing the conservation grant to these people is completely illogical and well and truly money down the drain.

“I am urging the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Finance, whomever, to stand up for our families and business owners who have and will pay their water bills, and abstain from releasing the €100 grant to those who have not yet, and will not pay.

It goes without saying that a fair share of mistakes were made in the setting up of Irish Water. Despite these mistakes, our first temperature reading for payment compliance was 44% and the first billing cycle saw 46% of projected revenue collected.

“Many, including the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, have been ridiculed for stating that this is a solid start, and a solid start it is. However, in paying those who are non-compliant, and particularly those who never ever intend on paying their water bill, Minister Kelly is now turning his back on the 44% who have paid their bills so far.”

Doherty continued “With the joint efforts of Irish Water, the Department of Social Protection etc., the compliance rate will continue to rise with regard to the number of people paying their bills. It is my view that only on the payment of a bill should the €100 grant be paid to a household or customer. No payment, no grant!

In conclusion Doherty said, “Tens of thousands of boil water notices were lifted right across the country just last week, some of which have been on boil water notices since 2009. These improvements were not possible before Irish Water.

“We need investment in our national infrastructure; there is no debate in that regard. We must now do the right thing; next year is too late for the appropriate changes to be made to the payment of the €100 water grant. I call on our Ministers to now step up to the mark and do not turn their backs on the people of Meath and the people of Ireland.”

Up to 800 objections to North South Interconnector received

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that up to 800 submissions have been received in objection to the North South Interconnector, which proposes to erect over 400 pylons and overhead transmission lines across in counties Meath, Monaghan and Cavan.

The Ratoath based TD said “today we saw the conclusion of a 10 week public consultation for the planning application for the North South Interconnector. A total of over 400 pylons are proposed to be erected across three counties, of which 162 are to be located in Meath.

“Today, I wrote to An Bord Pleanal to record my strong objection to this planning application. The foundation of my objection was not that I am against the concept or the development of the NS Interconnector; however, I am strongly and completely against the way in which the applicant, EirGrid Plc, proposes to develop this much needed infrastructure.

“At the Oireachtas Communications Committee the EirGrid Chief Executive Fintan Slye stated that the undergrounding of the North-South interconnector was "technically feasible”, but there was no option for the undergrounding of cables in their planning application which was subsequently made to An Bord Pleanala.

“Many of the concerns which are held by residents of Meath, and further afield, such as health, tourism and heritage, could be greatly diminished should EirGrid Plc agree to undergrounding all, if not some, of the North South Interconnector.

“The reason provided by EirGrid for the lack of undergrounding of cables is that of financial feasibility; however, as I pointed out in my submission, Meath residents have never been provided with a thorough analysis or costing which would be associated with undergrounding. Without the full picture containing the facts and figures, surely it is not possible for the public, let alone An Bord Pleanala, to make an informed decision on this planning application.

“I do not blame the people of Meath for their lack of faith in EirGrid to meaningfully consider the option of undergrounding all or part of the North South Interconnector, for their track record in this regard is far from comforting. EirGrid previously and repeatedly stated that an underground cable was not economically or practically possible for the proposed 100km line running from North Mayo to Co. Roscommon.

“The applicant subsequently conceded that it had ruled out undergrounding of this cable without giving it due consideration as a viable alternative, hence, there is concern that due consideration, again, is not being given to the undergrounding of the North South Interconnector.

The Meath Deputy concluded “we continue to have to defend our rural communities, agriculture, beautiful landscapes and heritage here in Meath. No doubt our rural champions have shown for our county yet again given the vast number of submissions made to An Bord Pleanala. It will be an anxious wait for many families and business over the coming months, but one thing is for sure, we are not known to give up easy!”

U-turn on planning decision disheartening

Deputy Regina Doherty & Cllr Sarah Reilly at the Primary Care Centre in Kells

Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today (Monday) said that last week’s decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission for the inclusion of a pharmacy at the Primary Care Centre, located just outside Kells, is disheartening.

The Ratoath based TD said “last March I joined our four (4) pharmacies in  Kells in breathing a sigh of relief as Meath County Council made a decision to refuse planning for a pharmacy to be included in the primary care centre located outside the town centre.

“It is disheartening, to say the least, to learn that this decision was overturned by An Bord Pleanala following a subsequent appeal by the applicant.

“I maintain what I stated earlier this year, that the inclusion of a pharmacy in the Primary Care Centre will bring with it severe negative repercussions for both the existing pharmacies in Kells, and other local shops and small businesses who currently benefit from their footfall.”

Concluding, the Meath Deputy said “I will continue to do everything in my power to support small and local business in Kells and right across the county.”