The Government is coming under increasing pressure to introduce a universal grant scheme to aid Longford homeowners in their attempts to upgrade outdated waste systems.
It comes after a recent meeting of Longford County Council to discuss Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s plan to remodel Ireland’s wastewater treatment laws.
In response to a notice of motion put down by Cllr Mick Cahill, Director of Services Jack Kilgallon revealed Environment Protection Agency figureheads had yet to thrash out how inspections, scheduled to get underway from next summer, will operate.
“The exact arrangements that will apply with regard to the inspection of domestic water treatment systems have yet to be published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” said the environmental and emergency services chief. “It is the council’s understanding that the relevant standards are currently being drawn up by the EPA and publication is expected shortly.”
.Cllr Denis Glennon said those affected were best advised to sit tight until the EPA formally publishes its list of requirements when inspections do eventually take place.
A number of other representatives chose to direct their misgivings at the recent hike in septic tank registration fees.
Until little over five weeks ago, households could still have availed of a concessionary €e5 fee. Last month that rose to €e50, an upsurge which Cllr Paul Connell hit out at.
“Why should people register when they don’t know what they are registering for,” complained the Independent representative. “The registration fee has gone up, but if the EPA have not got the guidelines published then the fee should stay at €e5 until you know what you are registering for.”
Questions were asked about why no allowances had been made for septic tank holders who were under extreme financial pressure.
“There is no grant system or anything and this is where the breakdown in this whole thing lies,” said Cllr Mark Casey. “There should be some sort of aid given; it’s only fair.”
Backing up those comments, Cllr PJ Reilly warned of a potentially troublesome time ahead for government bosses such was the level of opposition to the project.
“To me, it’s like an old saying of buying a pig in a bag. You pay for it first and then you see what the announcement will be. I do think there should be some type of grant put in place especially as there are all types of figures being fired out, anything from €e10,000 to €e20,000. People just simply won’t have the money to spend on it,” he predicted.
Inspections, led by council staff, are due to start next summer particularly in areas where water sources are under threat of pollution from tanks.
Tanks can be registered online at www.protectourwater.ie at Longford County Council’s headquarters in Longford town or by post. Forms can be collected at its Great Water Street offices or the local Citizens Information Centre and sent to Protect Our Water, PO Box 12204, Dublin 7.