'Threats will fuel the belief that fee is essentially a rural tax'
Published 12/10/2012 | 05:00
SUGGESTIONS that home owners who have not registered their septic tanks will be among the first to be inspected may cause a stir in rural communities but it is unlikely to provoke a flood of registrations.
A survey carried out by the Irish Independent over the three days of the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross found just over half of farmers hadn't paid the charge and that 37pc of those who had not registered did not intend to do so.
However, the level of compliance with the registration regime has been worse, with just half of the 500,000 septic tank owners signed up so far.
Faced with what amounts to a rural revolt on the septic tank charge, the State now appears to be threatening those who have not registered with early inspections and possible fines if septic tanks are not up to standard.
This surely goes against the reasoning for registration, which was introduced after a European Court of Justice ruling that Ireland wasn't doing enough to protect drinking water quality.
Initially, the inspection programme was to be concentrated in river catchment and coastal areas where ground water quality was not up to acceptable standards.
However, the statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that properties with unregistered systems "will be more likely to be inspected" will fuel the belief that the registration fee is, in essence, a rural tax.
John Comer of farm organisation the ICMSA reflected the anger of rural dwellers when he described the EPA's comments as "grossly unfair, premature and actually counter-productive".
Mr Comer also noted that the Government had yet to outline whether or not grant aid would be available to help those households whose septic tanks might require serious and expensive upgrades.