The introduction of septic tank charges under the Government’s proposed Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 is a discriminatory attack on rural communities, according to Donegal Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill.
Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “The Government attempted to introduce this Bill under the radar last Thursday, November 3rd, with notice of its publication only give in response to a Fianna Fáil question in the Dáil.
“Under the Fine Gael/Labour plans, all householders with septic tanks and other on-site systems will have to register their systems with the relevant Local Authority. A National Register will be compiled and held by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Householders will be required to pay a registration fee of €50. Following the initial registration, householders will be required to re-register their systems at an interval of 5 years. If they wish to appeal the findings of an initial inspection they will be charged an additional €200 and could potentially have to pay further fees of €200 for subsequent inspections. On top of all of this, they will also have to pay the full cost of any upgrade works required, which could reach €15,000 for individual houses.
“Fianna Fáil is totally opposed to this Bill and will fight tooth and nail the attempts by this Government to hit rural dwellers with septic tank charges. This charge penalises people for living in rural communities with no direct access to public sewerage schemes. Public Sewerage Schemes are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer whereas to date, no assistance has been given to rural people with their effluent systems.
“I am urging Minister Hogan to explore the scenario in other jurisdictions where there is no charge associated with inspections for example in Northern Ireland and Scotland. In Scotland, all septic tanks have to be registered but the households affected do not have to pay themselves and there is no mandatory inspections while in Northern Ireland there is no mandatory inspection and the inspection costs are borne by the NI Environment Agency.”
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