With all eyes on the euro, the budget, the Middle East, some remarkable, smaller stories emerged.
Irish roads are now among the safest in the OECD. I guess the main reason is that much traffic has shifted to the new roads.
The 2010 Drinking Water Quality Report is out. Water quality is getting better, but slowly. Biological contamination is down and trihalomethanes (which result from improper chemical treatment) are down too.
Construct Ireland reports on an unpublished SEAI study (the leak is easily identified) that shows that building standards were not enforced. This is not surprising in itself, but the scale is. Sean O’Rourke’s interview with Gerry Wardell is worth a listen, and SEAI’s response is intriguing.
The EU is putting pressure on Ireland to hurry up with water charges. Ireland is obliged to fully recover the costs of water services. This implies an average charge of 500 euro per household per year, 5 times what is expected to be announced in next week’s budget.
The carbon tax is likely to go up. Initially, the carbon tax was tied to the ETS permit price, which has gone down. The market is least distorted when permit price and carbon tax are equal. Coal and peat, the fuels that emit most carbon dioxide, are still exempt from the carbon tax and there is no sign of the commencement order.
Dublin is considering a fire call-out charge. This would be wrong. Fire is an emergency. One should never hesitate to call for help.