A major row is brewing between the building industry and the country’s main environmental watchdog over proposals for new charges to be levied on construction waste.
The building industry is claiming that an overhaul of the waste-charging regime proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will drive up the cost of construction.
Construction inflation, as well as State-imposed charges, has become a growing problem as the economy recovers, with house builders in particular claiming it is impacting their ability to build profitably. In recent days, Construction Industry Federation (CIF) director general Tom Parlon wrote to the organisation’s members to say that for two years it has sought answers about what he described as “the ongoing crisis in the reuse and disposal of soil and stone and construction waste with the Taoiseach, successive ministers such as Simon Coveney and Denis Naughten, in addition to senior civil servants in the Department of Housing and the Environmental Protection Agency amongst others”.
Parlon said the crisis “has not been resolved and members are being put in an untenable position” and the CIF has “communicated to Government at the highest level that the crisis is now undermining the delivery of housing and critical infrastructure”.
“Delays in resolving this issue by the EPA means companies face costly ambiguity about the treatment of their construction waste,” he wrote.
The EPA proposals would remove a special exemption that allows construction companies to dispose of non-contaminated soil for free.
Instead, they will now have to pay at least €12 per tonne of soil. But this charge, which is set by landfill operators, can rise to as much as €140 per tonne if the soil is contaminated by metals and other dangerous substances.
Construction companies also fear that the charges may be retrospective, meaning that they could potentially be charged substantial amounts for soil that they previously disposed of at landfill facilities for free.
Parlon’s memo to CIF members said that the organisation would again highlight industry concerns about the issue when it meets the EPA next month and “will robustly outline the immediate actions that should be taken”.
In advance of this meeting, Parlon said he would again highlight “this crisis” to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and the Environment.