The Government has escaped answering the most fundamental questions about new septic tank charges after the controversial Bill passed through all stages in the Oireachtas this week. Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins has said grave uncertainty remains about what costs are now facing septic tank owners across the country under Minister Phil Hogan’s new legislation.
Deputy Collins said, “Minister Hogan has successfully pushed through his legislation that will impose registration, inspection and upgrade charges on over 400,000 septic tank owners across the country. Throughout the process, he and his Government colleagues have attempted to stifle debate at every stage and have sought to mislead the public on a number of occasions. They have remained steadfast in their refusal to answer any questions about inspection standards and resulting costs.
“Since the Bill was published last year, Fianna Fáil has appealed to the Minister on several occasions to clarify what standards will be used when septic tanks are inspected under his plan. This is of fundamental importance, as it will determine how many septic tanks will have to be replaced and upgraded and how much homeowners will have to pay for this. Not only did the Government refuse to answer this themselves, they blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from coming before the Oireachtas Environment Committee to answer questions about inspection standards.
“The Government has succeeded, and septic tank charges will soon be a reality. Their handling of this has been appalling. Fianna Fáil has always said that we support the need to register our septic tanks as required by the European Commission and to ensure that private waste water systems are clean and safe. What we have strongly opposed is the Government’s plan to force rural dwellers to pay for all of this themselves, when those living in urban areas do not face these costs. It is simply unfair and inequitable.”
Deputy Collins concluded, “Fianna Fáil will continue to campaign for grants for septic tank owners to help them meet the considerable costs of upgrading or replacing their systems.”