HALF of septic tanks inspected in Cork have failed to reach standards set by recently enacted regulations, it was revealed this week.
The new regulations for septic tanks came about when Environment Minister Phil Hogan introduced the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, which was necessary to prevent the State facing a fine for failure to comply with an EU environmental directive.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) told Monday's meeting of Cork County Council that the local authority should call on the government to introduce a National Septic Tank Grant Aid Scheme "as a matter of urgency" given the high failure rate of inspections so far.
Acting county manager Declan Daly confirmed that nationally the failure rate is in and around 50%, a figure reflected in the results of the inspections carried out in Cork.
Cllr Murphy said that such a scheme would reap environmental and economical benefits as local contractors would enjoy a boost in trade in bringing rural homes into compliance.
While he supported the scheme, Fianna Fáil's Cllr Alan Coleman said that Fine Gael accused his party of "scaremongering" when it said that the introduction of legislation would be a cause of concern to rural-dwellers.
"Now we see Fine Gael with its tails between its legs coming along with its begging bowl. I've never seen such a climbdown," he said.
Party colleague Cllr Aindrias Moynihan said that Minister Hogan had been dragged "kicking and screaming" through the implementation of the new regulations, having already reduced the cost of registering septic tanks following political pressure.
"This should have been done up front by the Minister, right away. He needs to get on with it," he said.
Cllr Ronan Sheehan (Lab) said that the current system, which only allows assistance to people who have failed an inspection, needs to be reviewed.