Call for grant for septic tank repairs


THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to introduce a grant scheme covering the entire cost of septic tank repairs, following the introduction of the septic tank inspection scheme earlier this year.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) made the call in its pre-budget submission published yesterday.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said rural dwellers must be treated equally with their urban counterparts “and this is the only way that can be achieved”.

The submission points out that all urban households have full sewage disposal costs covered “and recent evidence suggests that the cost per house in urban housing developments is actually more than the potential cost of a 100 per cent grant for rural households to upgrade septic tanks”.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan opened the septic tank registration scheme in June. A reduced €5 registration fee was available until the end of September but fewer than 40 per cent of septic tank owners availed of the lower rate. The fee is now €50.

The ICSA submission also called for a tougher stance on public sector pay and allowances.

Mr Gilmartin said the Government had a stated policy of expenditure cuts rather than tax increases to meet fiscal targets but this was being curbed by the Croke Park agreement.

“The focus on reducing staff numbers rather than pay is hindering any real progress,” he said.

“The refusal to target increments and failure to make savings on allowances means that a disproportionately high number of cuts are made to vital schemes, frontline services and capital investment.”

The farm organisation has also urged that farm schemes be protected from cuts. “For example, the Disadvantaged Area Scheme, which is vital for many livestock farmers, has taken a cut of more than 25 per cent over recent budgets,” Mr Gilmartin said.