Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says consumers will be protected from sudden price gouging in the waste disposal sector through the establishment of a regulator and he has welcomed the Government’s decision to set up a taskforce in the interim period.
Fianna Fáil used its Private Members time in the Dáil this week to call for a regulator for the sector.
Deputy Scanlon commented, “The Government’s handling of this issue over the past year has been a joke. Twice we’ve seen Ministers announce new charging regimes without any consultation or public awareness campaigns, and twice these Minsters have had to defer their plans. It appears as if they had a better idea of how the system would work last year, than they are this year, and this in itself is worrying.
“I’m glad that Minister Naughten and his Cabinet colleagues have realised the gravity of the situation and are listening to my party’s call for a waste regulator to protect consumers. As a result of the Government’s mismanagement of the charges people were fearful that they would see their waste charges rise dramatically. The issue of competition is a major problem, especially for people living in rural areas where there is very little competition.
“I know that in my own area of Ballymote there is only one waste company and locals were very worried that their bills would increase as a result of the new regime. The lack of competition is a real issue, but the fact that we have secured a regulator to monitor pricing will ensure that customers are not subjected to price gouging.
“Steps must also be taken to clamp down on illegal dumping and fly tipping. We have had terrible problems in Sligo with indiscriminate dumping in scenic areas. In one case, Sligo County Council, along with the local community was forced to hire a HI-MAC along with a number of skips to remove rubbish from a rural road. It’s a disgraceful situation, but the council itself along with community activists have gone above and beyond their duty is attempting to manage the problem.
“It is extremely important that Local Authorities are given proper funding to deal with illegal dumping – this proposal is contained in the motion, which we brought before the Dáil. We need to establish whether the increase in fly tipping has coincided with the privatisation of bin collection. The EPA could be used to carry out this examination and make recommendations.
“I’m glad that the Government has woken up to the importance of a regulator. This move will promote competition in the sector and will protect consumers against unwarranted, unfair and unnecessary price hikes in the future”.