System to register septic tanks not available

Mon, Jun 18, 2012, 01:00

HOUSEHOLDERS SEEKING to register their septic tanks and avail of a special €5 fee available between April and the end of June have been told they cannot do so with their local authority.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it was “still testing the systems” for the registration which will allow for inspection of around half a million septic tanks, and no local authority had been given instructions on how the fee should be paid and by what method or when.

Last February, amid controversy over the introduction of a registration and inspection system for domestic waste-water systems, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan offered to reduce the €50 fee for April, May and June.

As the deadline approaches, local authorities such as Kerry County Council have been inundated in recent weeks with requests from among the country’s 500,000 householders who operate septic tanks. Many of these requests have come from people paying their household charges.

“We’ve had numerous queries from people paying their household charge and wanting at the same time to register their septic tanks to avail of the low fee, and we have to tell them we have no instructions,” a senior Kerry County Council official said.

The official could not say how many septic tanks there were in Kerry, as no count was available.

One householder in rural Killarney, Andrew McCarthy, who sought to register his septic tank last week, said he was taken aback to be told there was no provision.

“The main thing now is, will the €5 fee be available after June?” he asked.

The spokesman for the department said the Minister had not expected the setting up of the system would take so long. The department wanted to make sure it was “foolproof”, and to allow people to pay on line or directly through their local authority.

He said it would probably be later this summer before the system was up and running, but the €5 fee would be available for three months from the commencement date.

“There will be a three-month period where you can avail of a €5 fee.”

The registration and inspection for waste-water systems under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 follows a European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland in October 2009, and seeks to protect drinking water. However, it will now be 2013 before inspections begin.