Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Question 445: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the ESB will have to pay for the use of water for the purpose of the production of hydroelectricity based on the reasoned opinion received from the European Commission in November 2011; the reply sent to the Union regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8121/12]
Question 446: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Waterways Ireland will have to pay for the abstraction of water for use in the Royal Canal, the Grand Canal, the Shannon-Erne Waterway and other man-made waterways as a result of the reasoned opinion from the European Union in November 2011; the reply sent by him regarding same to the Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8122/12]
Question 466: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has replied to the reasoned opinion of the EU Commission of 24 November 2011, on the matter of the Water Framework Directive within two months, as requested by the Commission; the details of the reply; if he will lay the reply before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8300/12]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 445, 446 and 466 together.
A Reasoned Opinion from the European Commission in relation to the interpretation of the definition of water services under the Water Framework Directive was received in November 2011, with a request for reply by 29 January 2012. My Department sought, and has been granted, an extension of the date for reply to 29 March 2012, in view of the complexity of the issue. This matter is also the subject of Reasoned Opinions issued to at least 5 other Member States.
In relation to the question of payment for the use of water for purposes such as hydropower or inland navigation, Article 9 of the Water Framework Directive provides Member States with some discretion on the application of the cost recovery principle. For example, Member States may have regard to the social, environmental and economic effects of the recovery, as well as the geographic and climatic conditions of the region affected.
My Department is considering its response to the Reasoned Opinion in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. It would not be appropriate or normal procedure to lay the terms of the eventual reply before the Houses of the Oireachtas; the matter is likely to be subject to further communication between the Commission and the Irish authorities.
Question No. 447 answered with Question No. 440.