Concrete levy should lead to more timber frame homes and better regulation of industry, says Ryan

Levy is expected to generate €80 million towards the mica and pyrite redress schemes

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan has said that the concrete levy introduced in the budget on Tuesday should lead to the building of more timber frame homes.

The levy, from which it is expected to raise €80 million towards the mica and pyrite redress schemes, will mean a 10 per cent increase on concrete products from next April.

Mr Ryan told Newstalk Breakfast that he hoped the introduction of the levy would lead to better controls and regulations of the building industry. When asked if the levy could lead to less use of concrete in building, he said that more timber frame homes was “where we need to go.”

“We have the raw material here, we’ve a potential industry developing in it. We can’t just keep going business as usual in that industry (construction), it does have to change.”

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The mistake had been in allowing defective products to be used in the building of houses in the first place. “There also has to be a message to the industry, and reform of that industry, so we don’t just write a multibillion euro blank cheque and say ‘It doesn’t matter, you don’t have any responsibility’,” he said.

Mr Ryan said that homebuyers were actually picking up a much larger tab – through the tax system. “The several billions we’re going to have to actually spend now is public money. It’s not as if the tab disappears – where does it land? It is landing unfortunately in the lap of the Irish people.” Mr Ryan added that he thought it appropriate that a small portion be paid by the construction sector.

Later on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, the Minister said that it was appropriate that the construction industry be better regulated and a levy would set some control and introduce regulations that were much needed.

The new levy on concrete blocks will add up to €1,600 towards the building costs of a three-bed semidetached house, the Department of Finance has confirmed.

Earlier this week the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Department of Finance estimated the controversial levy will mean a 0.4 per cent increase in the cost of concrete products being used to build homes. However, the Department of Finance has now said that the increases in construction costs could be up to 0.9 per cent, or €1,600 on a three-bed home.

Opposition parties have again called on the Government to scrap the plans for the levy, which was announced on Tuesday as part of Budget 2023 following signals from the Coalition last year that it was considering such a move in light of costs associated with repairing homes affected by defective blocks.

Senior sources across the Coalition indicated Thursday night, however, that there are no plans to reverse or pause the announcement and they believe it will be introduced as planned next April. There have been suggestions that changes could be made as part of the forthcoming legislation to give effect to the levy, but the Dáil has heard more calls for it to be scrapped entirely.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter