Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Hogan insists septic inspections essential

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has rejected suggestions that the new inspection regime for septic tanks is a "money-generating exercise".

Outlining the proposals last week, Minister Hogan said the measures were necessary to protect water quality and the environment.

He said the inspection regime was essential for Ireland to comply with European water quality directive, and he reiterated that a 2009 European Court ruling meant non-compliance would result in the imposition of a €2.7m lump-sum penalty and continuing fines of €26,000 per day.

"While the majority of septic tanks may be working well, and in those cases the householders should have nothing to worry about, those tanks that are not working properly may be polluting groundwater and contaminating our drinking water supplies and must be remediated," Mr Hogan said.

The key features of the proposed new system:

•All householders with septic tanks and other onsite systems will be required to register details of their system with the relevant local authority and a national register will be compiled and held by the EPA;

•Householders will be required to pay a registration fee of up to €50;

•Following the initial registration, householders will not be required to re-register their systems for five years; n While inspections would be concentrated on areas with higher risk to the environment and public health, they will also be carried out in lower risk areas but at a lower rate;

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•Inspections may give rise to householders being advised to improve the maintenance of their systems or, in more serious situations, may require the upgrading or remediation of the treatment system.

There was a mixed reaction to the proposals from farm organisations.

ICSA national president Gabriel Gilmartin expressed relief at the decision not to impose an inspection charge on septic tanks but has also expressed caution at the planned registration charges.

"There should be no need for such a fee or charge to be imposed. Septic tanks are already part of any planning permission application and would therefore be on public record, it's just an easy target to apply a stealth tax on the 440,000 households with septic tanks," Mr Gilmartin said.

Meanwhile, Pat Farrell, of the IFA, said the imposition of a recurring registration charge was no different from the inspection charge that Mr Hogan had been considering.

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