The Government has agreed to key concessions sought by local TD Denis Naughten in advance of the passing of the new law on septic tanks recently.
“While the majority of the discussion on the new septic tank laws has focused on the €50/€5 registration fee, the key issue which will have a real impact on the daily lives of people is the new standards and, as a result, the cost of complying with such standards,” stated Deputy Naughten.
“Throughout this process I have firmly believed that the Dáil must be able to scrutinise the new standards, a proposal which the Government accepted. As a result there will now be a four week public consultation period commencing before the end of this month, followed by a Dáil debate and vote on the new rules for the operation of septic tanks. This concession now means that the public has a direct say in how these new standards will be implemented in every parish throughout the country.
“Secondly, I sought the introduction of an improved grant for families living close to existing sewer pipes and the Minister for the Environment has committed to reviewing the current level of grant available.
“I also sought a commitment on assistance to support families who would face financial hardship in having to comply with the new standards. While the Minister for the Environment did not give a binding commitment, he has given assurances on this matter, which will be assessed when the new standards are approved and when data is available on the scale of the problem with septic tanks.
“A number of other clarifications and commitments which were obtained on foot of issues which I raised directly with Minister Hogan in the Dáil will protect homeowners in the long term by having their septic tank fully operational, at the minimum practical cost.”
The Roscommon/South Leitrim TD added: “It should also be noted that the alternative approach as outlined by the previous Government would see every septic tank being inspected to meet criteria based on the current EPA standards, which in County Leitrim alone mean that up to 90% of septic tanks could fail. Not only would the public have to pay for the inspection but because of the high failure rate with the current standards it would be impossible to fund any grant scheme.
“Unfortunately, those that are currently inspected by the County Council have to deal with these standards, without any possibility of financial help. What is being proposed is an extension of the current risk based inspection programme which has been operating in Co Roscommon and throughout the country for a number of years, but the cost of upgrading faulty tanks will now be far less and there is also the possibility of financial assistance.”