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Phil Hogan claimed that Ireland needed to introduce laws on septic tanks by February 3 as part of its defence to the ECJ ruling. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
septic tanks

ECJ to rule on whether Ireland will face septic tank fines

The EU’s top court will rule later this month on whether Ireland’s new septic tank inspections are enough to avoid a fine.

THE HIGHEST COURT in the European Union will rule later this month on whether Ireland will face serious fines for its failure to bring in an adequate regime of septic tank inspections.

The European Court of Justice will indicate on December 19 whether the Irish government is still in breach of a European waste water directive, which requires each country to implement domestic laws regulating systems such as septic tanks.

The European Commission wants the ECJ to issue immediate fines of almost €5.5 million on Ireland the equivalent of €4,771.20 per day since the 2008 ruling – claiming it has failed to honour a previous ECJ ruling from 2008 which found Ireland to be in breach of the directive.

On top of this, the Commission wants further fines of €26,173.44 per day until Ireland can demonstrate it has fallen into line with the directive.

Ireland claims that the introduction of legislation earlier this year, enforcing the mandatory registration of every septic tank in the country, is enough to bring it into line with the ruling and that the fines are therefore not necessary.

The Irish government also argues that the daily fines are calculated using a formula which includes the country’s ability to pay it, and that the downturn in Ireland’s finances should be taken into account if the ECJ does decide to impose a fine.

Environment minister Phil Hogan had argued earlier this year that Ireland’s laws on septic inspections needed to be introduced by February 3 in order to avoid European fines.

This was because Ireland needed to submit its defence to the case by that date, and that Ireland’s arguments would be based on the premise that the necessary laws were now in place.

On the same day, the ECJ will also rule on whether Ireland will face a €5.5 million fine stemming from a 2006 ruling which said Ireland had not complied with a directive about Environmental Impact Assessments for new construction developments.

Ireland accepts that it was in breach of that directive, but is again contesting the level of the fine.

Read: Septic tank registrations pass one-in-four mark before €5 deadline

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