The following is the IFA statement of its position, as of 9th/February, 2012:
The Department of Environment has recently introduced new legislation (Water Services-Amendment Act 2012) for the monitoring and inspection of septic tanks. This legislation was introduced because the European Court of Justice in 2009 found Ireland guilty of not having sufficient measures in place to monitor septic tanks, and the Court was seeking to impose significant fines on Ireland.
The measures contained in the legislation will have a significant impact on the 480,000 rural dwellers that have septic tanks and will require homeowners to:
- Register their septic tank with local authorities.
- Ensure the septic tank is in good working order.
IFA supports improved water quality, it is in everyone’s interest to have good drinking water. However, the Association has strongly opposed the introduction of any registration charge and following on-going discussions, Minister Hogan has decided to reduce the charge from €50 to €5. This lower fee of €5 will be in place for any registrations which takes place before 30th June 2012.
Many farm families and others living in the countryside are extremely concerned about the measures contained in the new legislation, which gives council staff the right to come into homes and inspect their septic tank systems. Rural dwellers do not know the standards the council are going to apply, the remediation measures that will be imposed or their right to financial assistance if repair works are required.
IFA has called for the immediate publication of the check-list which septic tank inspectors will be using.
In addition, the Association has called for the publication of a list of septic tanks which meet the standards required.
IFA has also called for the introduction of a retrofit scheme, similar to the Warmer Home Scheme. This must provide tax relief and grant support where upgrading work is deemed necessary following an inspection. This scheme should be in place before any inspections begin, to allow householders to assess what is available to them. Whatever might be required of householders must be offset in a substantial way by the scheme. Minister Hogan has clarified that no inspections will take place during 2012.
The retro-fit work will help to generate jobs and economic activity in rural areas, at a time when lack of growth is holding back our economic recovery.
The Minister must also ensure that inspections due to start next year will be visual, and only tanks installed after 2009 will have to meet the most recent standards set down by the Environment Protection Agency. He must also deliver practical wastewater treatment solutions for families that want to build a new home.
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