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// Hogan to consider grants for septic tanks
Septic tank owners will not face “onerous financial responsibilities” under a new waste water inspection regime being introduced, Environment Minister Phil Hogan has pledged.
Regulations for 500,000 property owners using septic tanks and waste water schemes were signed off on by the Government yesterday. The septic tank regulations come as the minister said it was “likely” that Ireland would have to pay €3.6m in fines to Europe for breaching a waste directive.
Mr Hogan said he would consider a system of grants for septic tank owners who may have to upgrade their systems. However, the amount in grants and the numbers who may need them will not be known until after the new inspection regime begins in early 2013.
Septic tank owners can now register for the inspection process at the cost of €5 for the next three months, up until September 28. After that the charge will rise to €50. All septic tank owners must register by February 1 next year. Those who fail to register could eventually face fines of up to €5,000.
Mr Hogan revealed that not every septic tank would be checked and that a ‘risk–based system’ of inspections would be applied. This will see a limited number of tanks nationwide inspected according to where the biggest risk of pollution to groundwater, water sources or health lies.
Mr Hogan told TDs at an Oireachtas Environment Committee meeting he could “not sign a blank cheque” for rural tank owners in need of assistant payments for upgrades.
He said he believed, according to previous inspections of 3,000 tanks in Cavan, that property owners would not face hefty bills if inspectors told them to upgrade their systems.
Septic tank owners can register for inspections and pay charges at local authority offices, online at www.protectourwater.ie or by post to Protect our Water, PO Box 12204, Dublin 7.
The inspection regime is being rolled out to comply with an EU environmental ruling against Ireland. Legal advice to the Government suggests the State is facing €3.6m in fines but it intends to fight further daily fines of €26,000 being backdated to the middle of last year.
Fianna Fáil claimed Mr Hogan had “dodged questions” about whether tank owners would get grants and homeowners remained “in the dark” about the inspection process.
By Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter
Wednesday, June 27, 2012