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Dublin: 1 °C Monday 21 October, 2019

Septic tank row continues as Fianna Fáil calls for expert advice

Sinn Féin has also organised information meetings in Mayo next week to discuss the impact of the Septic Tank Bill.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

JUST A FEW weeks after Environment Minister Phil Hogan warned that Fianna Fáil is trying to frighten rural Ireland over the Septic Tank Bill, the Opposition party has weighed in on the issue again.

Today, the party’s spokesman on the Environment Niall Collins formally requested that a group of experts be called before an Oireachtas committee to discuss the impact of the proposed septic tank registration fee and inspection process.

Collins has written to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Environment Committee asking that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), An Taisce, Engineers Ireland, Friends of the Irish Environment and the Rural Dwellers Association be invited to make representations in the coming weeks.

He would also like to see representatives of local authorities and community groups attend a meeting.

“The main problem with this Bill as it stands is that we do not know what standards will apply for the inspection of septic tanks around the country,” he explained, adding that the people affected by the legislation feared expensive upgrades will be needed.

The €50 inspection fee is being introduced by the Government to ensure septic tanks in Ireland comply with EU regulations on preventing contamination of ground water – and subsequently drinking water.

The country currently faces fines over its failure to monitor septic tanks. Hogan has said that inspections will be carried out on a risk-based basis, depending on how close to water sources they are.

However, Fianna Fáil has argued that the legislation will unfairly impact the 400,000 septic tank owners in Ireland.

“What we remain vehemently against is the Government’s moves to push the entire cost of registration and upgrades directly onto septic tank owners,” Collins said in a statement this afternoon.

Minister Hogan has previously said the legislation and registration is a necessity – not something he wants to implement.

Sinn Féin has also been drumming up action in relation to the Bill with meetings organised in Mayo next week. Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser, Councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said the legislation had been neither “rural nor poverty-proofed”.

She added, “[The Bill] must be amended to take the realities of its implementation into consideration before it’s too late.”

A protest movement has been started in Connemara which climaxed last month when a 400-strong group of protesters carried a toilet through the centre of Galway city.

More: Hogan says Fianna Fáil is frightening rural Ireland over septic tank charges>

Read more: 440,000 septic tank owners to pay €50 inspection fee>

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