Dublin North Senator and Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader Darragh O’Brien has raised two of the biggest issues to affect families, the environment and the community in North Dublin with the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.
Speaking in the Seanad on issue of septic charges to be imposed on householders from next year Senator O’Brien said: “This is not just a rural issue; it is a big issue in my constituency in north County Dublin. I attended five meetings in recent weeks in Rush, Lusk, Loughshinny, Ballyboughal, Skerries and Swords. A further meeting is planned for Thursday in Swords. Rural dwellers with one-off houses have paid significant development levies to local authorities for services they do not have. That is certainly the case with Fingal County Council.
“People in north County Dublin have paid between €30,000 and €50,000 to the local authority by way of development levies for services that do not exist. The Bill does not refer to providing grant aid for people in any way, shape or form. Neither does it refer to means testing. Let us consider what is done for the warmer homes scheme and provide a degree of equity. We will have problems with septic tanks and systems that will fail the test. People will have to pay for the remediation. In many instances it will cost thousands of euro to remediate the system. What will happen if people do not have the money?
Senator O’Brien also raised with Minister Hogan the highly controversial waste water treatment plant proposed for North County Dublin.
Senator O’Brien said: “In his opening statement the Minister correctly referred to the importance of ground water and the supply of fresh drinking water. I could not agree with him more. He should talk to the people in north County Dublin who are faced with a proposal from the Department. I will tell him where he will get the money; under the greater Dublin strategic drainage scheme. The Department, in conjunction with Fingal County Council, proposes to install the largest waste water treatment plant this country has ever seen in the middle of the horticultural and market gardening capital of this country where 60% of the fresh fruit and vegetables are produced.
“This scheme remains part of the capital programme and the Minister has allowed it to proceed to planning. Between €2.3 billion and €2.6 billion has been put aside for this project that is not needed. What will happen is that the people of north County Dublin and Fingal will treat the waste for nine regional local authorities all around that area. If the Minister wants to save money to enable him to introduce a grant scheme to allow people to remediate their septic tanks he should bin the proposed scheme for a monster treatment plant in north County Dublin that will serve all of Dublin, Kildare, Meath and north Wicklow because it is simply not required. That is where he will get the money to provide the grants we are talking about to allow people to remediate their systems.”
Senator O’Brien added: “Is it Government policy – bad policy – to proceed with a massive, regional waste water treatment plant to serve the east coast and to land it slap-bang in the middle of north County Dublin? Has the Minister’s colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, raised the matter at Cabinet? Has the Minister not considered the fact that best practice across most developed countries is localised plants?”