26 January 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Michael McDonnell

Up on 200 people from mainly rural and farming homesteads attended a packed meeting on the septic tanks issue at Ballybay’s Wetlands Centre last Thursday, where the keynote speaker was Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív TD.
Fear of the unknown is usually guaranteed to provoke interest, and when the uncertainty is about a possible new drain on people’s money at a time when that commodity is in increasingly scarce supply, it can be taken as read that any public meeting on the issue in question will draw the crowds.
 That was the case in Ballybay on Thursday where Deputy Ó Cuív, a former Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs outlined his fears about the cost implications other potential difficulties that the proposed new regulations and inspections for private septic tanks may well entail.
Concerns about the issue are beginning to gain momentum around the country, and up on 500 people travelled from Ó Cuív’s home turf in Galway to attend a protest outside the Dáil yesterday (Wednesday) evening, against registration and possible inspection charges that they believe to be an attack on rural Ireland. Other protests and public meetings have been held around the country over the past week.
It is understood that the proposed registration of private septic tanks, and a requirement for certain standards to be met, will come into force when the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 comes into force. The Bill is currently being debated in the Dáil.
Much of the anger at present stems from uncertainty about how the tanks will be inspected, and about exactly what standards will apply. Nobody seems to know just how much individual households are liable to be out of pocket through registration fees, inspection fees and any necessary upgrading, though figures of between €17,000 and €20,000 are being bandied about.
The problem arises from a 2009 European Court of Justice ruling that found that Ireland had failed to meet its obligations under the various European directives to enforce standards in the emissions of human waste.
Outlining the Fianna Fáil position to …

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