An Taisce says Hogan policy on septic tanks 'not unfair'


INAPPROPRIATELY SITED or poorly maintained septic tanks have been responsible for serious pollution of drinking water, national heritage body An Taisce has said.

Politicians who were trying to foster opposition to plans by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan to introduce a €50 inspection charge were poorly informed of the risks to human health posed by septic tanks, said An Taisce heritage officer Ian Lumley.

“Minister Hogan’s approach on septic tanks is not unfair or unreasonable,” Mr Lumley said.

Major drinking water crises of recent years had been linked to badly located and badly maintained tanks. “Galway’s large-scale outbreak of cryptosporidium in 2007, where more than 250 people became seriously ill, was traced in large part to sewage from poorly maintained and wrong-sited septic tanks getting into Lough Corrib, from where drinking water is sourced.”

People’s right to safe drinking water would continue to be undermined until there was proper regulation of the 500,000 septic tanks in Ireland. “The current situation is so remiss and dangerous that the European court found against Ireland in 2009, and fines will be levied in 2012 unless a system of registration and maintenance is put in place.”

A €50 fee for a five-year registration was “fair and reasonable”, Mr Lumley said. Claims that people in rural areas were being charged for something that was not charged in urban areas was based on the “avoidance of facts”.

People who had bought houses which were connected to public sewers paid for those connections as part of the development contributions put up by house builders and passed on in the purchase price.

He said a hardship fund needed to be established to cope with the remediation of septic tanks of those who could not afford to pay.