Pyrite levies threatened for failure to co-operate

Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 01:00

MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan has threatened to introduce a levy on agencies responsible for pyrite in houses if they fail to co-operate with a repair programme.

He said a report submitted by a panel, established by him, had recommended the setting up of a resolution board funded by a levy on the construction and quarrying sectors and the related insurance sector.

His preference, he said, was that all the main stakeholders would engage with the proposed board. This would give a final opportunity for all those directly or indirectly accountable for what had happened to respond and play a lead role in the remediation programme and to contribute to the cost involved.

“I am hopeful that all the stakeholders will respond positively within 10 days,” he added. “However, if this is not the case, I will have no option but to ask Government to sanction the necessary steps to impose the type of levy envisaged by the panel in its report and in that way to provide finance for the resolution.”

Mr Hogan said the cost of remediating pyrite-damaged dwellings must fall to those stakeholders who were deemed to be responsible for the problem and identified in the report.

“I want to make it clear that I will do what is necessary to ensure that effective solutions are provided for affected homeowners.”

Mr Hogan said nobody should be in any doubt which side of the debate he was on. “It is the homeowners who have suffered for far too long with this problem,” he added.

Mr Hogan said estimates of dwellings affected by pyrite were significantly less than figures in the public domain. The estimate of 74 estates with 12,250 ground floor dwellings arrived at by the panel was supported by the “robust methodology” set out in the report.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen said stakeholders, including the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Association and the insurer HomeBond, among others, had failed to agree a plan to address the issue by the September deadline. Those responsible for the supply and use of pyrite across the country, and their insurers, should be responsible for the costs of rectifying the problem, he added.

Dessie Ellis (SF) said that in the past decade, due to the massive availability of credit, apartment blocks and commercial and civil buildings were often just thrown up. Mick Wallace (Ind) said plenty of people in the building industry had behaved poorly.

“The link between the builders and HomeBond was too strong and cosy,” he added. “Why is the Government even talking to them anymore ?” Mr Wallace said it was outrageous to suggest that the financial institutions did not bear responsibility.