Friday 20 October 2017

Rural revolt as half of farmers refuse to pay septic tank fees

Declan O'Brien and Darragh McCullough

THE Government is facing a rural revolt on the septic tank charge as more than half of the country's farmers had not registered by late last week.

A survey carried out by the Irish Independent over the three days of the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross found just over half -- 51pc -- of farmers hadn't paid the charge.

The survey also found that 37pc of those who had not registered said they did not intend to do so.

This translates to 19pc or almost one in five of the total sample. With almost 120,000 farmers in the country, the refusal of 19pc to pay the septic tank charge would equate to 24,000 households.

If this trend was mirrored across all rural dwellers, it could result in up to 100,000 households refusing to pay the charge, given that there are nearly 500,000 septic tanks in the country as a whole.

Last Friday was the deadline for householders to avail of the concessionary registration fee of €5. From now until February 1, the charge for registering a septic tank increases to €50.

But despite the lower fee, just 44pc of the 604 farmers surveyed at the National Ploughing Championships said they had registered for the charge.

Another 5pc said they were either unsure if the charge had been paid or if their house was connected to a sewerage scheme and the question was therefore not applicable.

Opposition

The low uptake of the concessionary fee will be a serious concern for Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who has also met with considerable opposition to the household charge.

However, Mr Hogan will take some comfort from the survey finding that 50pc of those who had not registered for the charge said they intended to do so.

It is understood that a major surge in online registrations to the Local Government Management Agency on Friday took the final figure to over 160,000.

A further 60,000 postal registrations are understood to be in the pipeline, with 10,000 more being made at local authority offices around the country. But this leaves around 250,000 homes still to register.

The new septic tank registration regime was introduced in the wake of a European Court of Justice ruling that Ireland wasn't doing enough to protect drinking water quality.

An inspection programme will be launched by local authorities early in 2013, with 35,000 tanks initially inspected.

Houses in river catchment and coastal areas will be targeted in the first round of inspections.

Irish Independent

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