Taking a stand against sewage costs
HUNDREDS of protesters, angered by the proposed septic tank charge, marched through Galway city yesterday before disrupting a council meeting. Around 400 residents from Connemara took to the streets to voice their opposition to the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011, which they say is unfair on rural dwellers.
A group of around 100 people later entered the chamber of Galway County Council while the monthly meeting was taking place.
Under the proposed legislation, householders will have to register their septic tanks at a cost of €50. However, they fear they may end up having to spend hundreds more in carrying out remedial works to comply with the new regulations.
Residents' spokesman Padraic A' Taillura O Conghaola said they were a non-political group who were opposed to plans by Environment Minister Phil Hogan to implement the septic tank charge.
"I think this is an injustice to rural people, an insult. This is the first protest against this bill but not the last," he vowed.
"We have to build, maintain and empty our septic tanks at a cost, whereas people on the public sewage don't pay a penny."
Mr Hogan said the bill is necessary to ensure Ireland complies with a 2009 ruling of the European Court of Justice as well as improving water quality and environmental protection.
But Mr O Conghaola said he has constructed his septic tank in line with the stipulations by Galway County Council. Accordingly, the group believes any remedial work should not be funded by rural homeowners as they followed the initial orders from their local planning authorities.
"Why should we have to pay again for something we've done according to the rules and regulations of our local county council? It looks like 75pc of all septic tanks in Connemara would not pass this inspection according to the European standard," he added.