PROPOSED legislation regulating septic tanks has been branded 'another tax on rural Ireland' by the Irish Farmer's Association.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan says the legislation, which will introduce a new septic tank registration and inspection regime, is necessary to prevent the State facing a fine for failure to comply with an EU directive.
News of the new inspection system comes following the announcement of an equally controversial land improvement scheme.
Sean Clarke, Cork Regional Development Officer with the IFA says the cost of the measures will bring about 'another tax on rural dwellers.'
"The last thing we need is another army of inspectors roaming the countryside, in and out of people's back gardens.
"There is absolutely no need for this as there are very few septic tanks that are not working properly. The majority of houses with septic tanks got planning permission for septic tanks and percolators. If their standards are good enough planning permission and for verifying under planning guidelines what is so wrong with them now? There is no need to go down this road of charging everyone," he said.
Mr Clarke added that rural residents already paid the expense of having a septic tank, with urban dwellers are spared the cost of desludging them for example.
"Rural dwellers are very responsible in ensuring that the septic tank percolation is working well, it is in their interest as well.
"This is simply an opportunity for the government to pick up additional revenue. We believe the system should be established on a risk-based approach.
"We don't want a situation whereby the Minister sends an army of inspectors in and out the gardens of rural Ireland and causing issues. If there is to be a situation whereby repairs are required to meet standards the government must bring in something like the warmer home schemes to help people to get them up to the proper order," he said.
The measures will put severe financial pressure on households, according to Cork East Sinn Fein TD Sandra McLellan.
"The expense involved in such requirements must be supported with grant-aid. As this is an EU ruling then there should be EU funding and a reasonable timescale to enable compliance. Currently the vast majority of households take care of their septic tanks in a responsible and effective manner.
"The fear of this new legislation is that households will incur costs they just cannot afford and the cost of emptying septic tanks will escalate dramatically."
"Rural households are facing the prospect of property taxes, water charges, increased mortgage repayments and now this further expense which will push people ever nearer or over the point where they can cope," she said.