And by ‘dung’ we do mean ‘dung’.
On Today With Pat Kenny yesterday morning Independent TD Mattie McGrath maintained there is no need for people to pay the €50 registration fee for septic tanks as county councils already have the information. He said this data would have been collected in the process of seeking planning permission and building a house. But Environment Minister Phil Hogan said this isn’t true and the Government has no comprehensive record of septic tanks.
Prompting the following:
Mattie McGrath: “What I don’t want Pat and listeners..God we got rid of the Black and Tans and Cromwell, not a bother. I don’t want to wake up some morning and see two or three gentlemen in my backyard or anybody’s backyard, peeping into my septic tank, like the peep o’dayboys doing out searches. And they expect
Kenny: “Hang on, what could, we know what goes into septic tanks…”
Mattie: We do and..
Kenny: “I mean there’s no embarrassment…”
Mattie: “Do we want to know the colour of it now aswell, Pat? Do you want to know the shape and size and colour of it. For God’s sake, ask the minister, he’s a rural deputy, to cop on to himself here. Stop frightening people out of their wits. Stop imposing more austerity, more penal laws on rural people. They won’t accept it, Pat.”
Phil Hogan: “Well I’m not introducing this legislation because I want to. It’s because the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland. We had it in October 2009 and it forced us to do so. And due to a lack of will from people like Deputy McGrath, and his colleagues at the time, they never introduced the legislation to give effect to that judgement. Even though Fianna Fail and the Greens signed up at the time for licensing septic tanks in their Programme for Government. So I have a responsibility, as Minister for the Environment, to protect ground water, to protect human health and to protect the taxpayers because if we don’t, you know, make sure that the septic tanks are in good working order and that they’re not endangering water supplies and local communities, well then we’ll have a bigger difficulty. I don’t want my well infected with E Coli from my neighbour’s septic tank because I believe inspections will protect and not attack rural householders, protect public health, protect the environment and protect jobs.
Kenny: “And do you have a septic tank yourself, minister?”
Hogan: “I do.”
Kenny: “Ok, so you’ll be paying €100 or €50 or whatever, what is it going to be?”
Hogan: “It’s going to be a once-off €50 registration charge in 2012. Inspections in the high-risk areas will start in 2013. And there’ll be no re-inspection charges, no re-registration charges, contrary to what Deputy McGrath and others were saying, over the summer months, that we were going to have a €300 of an annual charge.
Kenny: “So it’s €50 full-stop and then, of course, if you are infecting groundwater, you’ve got to do remedial works.”
Hogan: “Yes, I understand that some people have old tanks and they maybe be worried if they’re faced with major upgrading costs. This is going to be concentrated in high-risk areas. And, if people, with genuine money difficulties, at the end of the inspection period, have a requirement for some financial support, well then I have said that in the Dail and the Seanad, that we will look at that in the context of the budgetary situation of the time.”
Kenny: “So, Mattie McGrath what’s all the fuss about?”
Mattie: “Look, we know the budgetary constraints that are there, everyone knows that, he doesn’t have to remind us of that. Look the fuss is about, this is about an attack on rural Ireland. It’s a huge indiscriminatory piece of legislation. I’m very surprised with Minister Phil Hogan. And I know him , I respect as Big Phil, as we know him, he’s a neighbour down in my neighbouring constituency, but this is the last straw. The people in this country saw off John Gormley and his cabal, who were bringing in every kind of legislation and they put their trust in Fine Gael and I was delighted and I voted for Phil Hogan as minister and Enda Kenny, as Taoiseach. But I’m pure shocked now as I thought he was going to protect the people of rural Ireland, instead of attacking them.”
Kenny: “But hang on a second Mattie. He’s outlined a €50 registration charge, just for that process and then nothing, unless you are an offender?”
Mattie: “Pat, you’re living in the city. You don’t have a septic tank, do you?”
Kenny: “No, I don’t. No, no.”
Mattie: “Right. Pat, why would you have to register a septic tank? I built my house in 1984. I got planning permission. Thousands of occupiers in…40% of the households in my constituency have septic tanks. They bought the sites in most cases, they got the planning permission, paid the charges, built the house themselves, didn’t look to the State to do it. And now they’re being asked to register? The county council have a register of all those septic tanks. Either they’re too lazy or they’re inept, or why won’t they…”
Kenny: “Well minister what about that? They know where all the septic tanks are.
Mattie: “Course they do. And why do you expect people to pay €50 to, to, to register. And it won’t stay at €50, we know that.”
Hogan: “Well, it will stay at €50.”
Mattie: “It won’t.”
Hogan: “It’s in the bill. It’s a very unique occasion where it states it’s €50 in the Bill. There are no comprehensive registers of septic tanks.”
Mattie: “Course there are.”
Hogan: “Well I’m just going to try to tell you what the truth is. The Planning and Development Act of 1963 certainly has certain information but many properties that were constructed since 1964 have been sold more than once. And the planning regulations do not contain details of any changes of ownership and ownership details concerning properties.”