The Minister for Environment Phil Hogan is again failing address the real concerns of septic tank owners in relation to his controversial Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011, according to Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins. Deputy Collins was commenting after the Minister announced a temporary reduction in the septic tank registration fee for anyone who registers in the next three months.
“This announcement changes nothing, as the registration fee was never the main problem with Minister Hogan’s Bill. The cost of registration is a drop in the ocean for septic tank owners compared to the potential cost of replacing or upgrading tanks that fail inspection.  The Minister has caught the headlines, but has missed the point enitrely.
“The reason that thousands of people have attended public meetings around the country opposing Minister Hogan’s Bill is because they are worried about the costs they are facing to upgrade their septic tanks without any support from the State. They cannot understand why urban dwellers with access to public sewerage schemes are not liable for the cost of maintaining and upgrading these schemes. Why should rural dwellers be treated differently?
“If Minister Hogan is attempting to soften the blow on septic tank owners, it will not work.  Right from the start, he has handled this appallingly. He has failed to answer the most fundamental questions about what this legislation will mean for septic tank owners, by refusing to confirm what inspection standards will apply. This will determine how many tanks are likely to fail inspection and what the resulting costs will be.
“Fianna Fáil is again appealing to the Government to introduce a grant scheme for homeowners whose private waste water systems fail inspection.  Again, we have always supported the need to register all septic tanks in this country and to ensure that private water systems are safe.”