In a no-nonsense statement the Fine Gael deputy said that “untrue information put out by some politicians”, and Ireland’s longstanding record of being the best in Europe at implementing directives, are creating a lot of public fear about new regulations of septic tanks.
However the TD told donegaldaily.com: “There is a lot of fear about planned new regulations of septic tanks. That fear has been created by untrue information put into the public domain over the summer by some politicians. And there is fear because of Ireland’s longstanding record of being top of the class in Europe when it comes to implementing directives.
“The fear must be acknowledged, because one only needs to consider the level of Health & Safety inspecting that has gone on in Donegal and Ireland in recent years to understand why people are afraid of new septic tanks regulations. Ireland has a reputation in Europe for implementing directives over zealously.
“The new regulations must be introduced because Ireland is being fined €26,500 per day at the moment for non-compliance on septic tanks management. This responsibility falls to the Minister for Environment, and it is important to note that Ireland now has a Minister for Environment who has common sense, and who will not be overzealous in implementing directives. The culture of overzealous inspection must change.”
He said that the Minister for Environment has asked him to “allay fears created by untrue information” put into the public domain, by explaining to people the true facts of the matter on the septic tanks regulations.
Deputy McHugh insisted:
1. The Minister confirmed that householders would be required to pay a once-off registration fee of €50 and would not be charged if a system is selected for inspection. Registration in Northern Ireland is £115; registration in Scotland is £77. The Minister confirmed that there will not be an annual charge.
2. Inspections will only be carried out in sensitive high-risk areas, and one in ten tanks will be inspected in those high-risk areas (near waterways, etc.). The inspections with be conducted at no cost to householders by Local Authorities; Donegal County Council will carry out the inspections in this area.
3. The underlying principle is that septic tanks that are working will not be subject to replacement or upgrade, irrespective of when the tank was installed.
4. The Minister confirmed that he intends to amend the planning regulations to provide planning exemptions for any remedial works arising from inspections.
5. The Minister also confirmed his intention to set the fee for an appeal of the results of an inspection at €20.
Deputy McHugh added: “Those are the facts. The legislation is being enacted at this time to save money for Irish taxpayers, and the new regulations will be commonsensical and pragmatic.”
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