[Please note: meeting time is now at 7:30pm in the Horse and Hound, not 8pm as was stated earlier. I apologise for that.]
Our core concerns remain: what are the actual tank standards? What assistance will be available if we now need to upgrade our systems, despite having complied by the rules that the institutions of state set previously? Instead of answering these questions, Minister Phil Hogan has introduced draconian legislation which dictates that householders will be dragged through the courts and may be fined up to €5,000 if they cannot comply with his secret standards. The heavy-handedness, and lack of clarity surrounding this scheme stinks.
The entire septic tank scheme is of huge concern to rural Ireland. The government wants the power to criminalise people first, but without telling us what the actual rules are. They are trying to distract us from core issues like this, including the great personal and family costs of upgrades. They are trying to muddy the waters by focusing on the additional costs of the appeals process and registration – as though these were the only issues.
Our problem is not concerning the genuine environmental and social need to protect our water-tables and water sources. The issue is about using this as a money-grabbing tactic at a time of economic collapse. The issue is about successive governments who failed to comply with EEC/EU directives regarding the disposing of domestic wastewater – dating back to 1975. Now they want us to pay, to fix it for them overnight. Rural householders who have paid for their own infrastructure – dug their own wells and installed their own sewerage system – now have to bailout government abdication of duty.
We need a grant scheme for upgrades. It should be a given that any upgrading will be exempt from planning permission. Criminalising, and threatening homeowners with massive fines, must end. These people are ordinary rural dwellers who have provided their own infrastructure at great cost to themselves. Now the goalposts have been shifted half-way through – but we don’t even know what the new rules are, that we are being threatened with not complying. There are existing, practical, and working alternatives to this kafkaesque shambles.
A public meeting against the government’s Septic Tank Scheme will be held in the Horse and Hound, Ballinaboola on Wednesday the 15th of February at
8pm 7:30pm. Oisín O’Connell and Senator David Cullinane will be the main speakers and all are welcome to attend and contribute.