Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Sandra McLellan has condemned the Government’s handling of the proposed septic tank charge and called for the immediate establishment of agreed standards and an appropriate funding mechanism for those who have to carry out repairs or upgrades.
Speaking in the Dáil on the Report Stages of the Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 Deputy McLellan said:
“The fact that we don’t know what standards must be met at this late stage is completely unacceptable. The Minister must publish standards before any bill is passed. Otherwise we are being asked to vote for standards which haven’t even been drafted let alone agreed. The Minister has conceded that he will now commence on a 4 week consultation process before any standards are published. This is not good enough. The standards need to be published the bill voted on.
“The potential cost of repairs and upgrades that might be needed will place an unbearable pressure on some people. It could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many. Sinn Féin fully supports the upgrading of septic tanks. We fully agree that ground water and the environment must be protected. But the legislation before us is a knee jerk reaction to EU regulations. The bill is brought in under threat of fines from the EU for the failure of consecutive governments. The bill as it stands demands that any upgrading must be funded by the householder. This again is completely unacceptable. A fund must be established to assist householders to meet the payment of any repair or upgrade.”
“Hundreds of millions of state funds were invested in urban wastewater systems. The same support must now be given to rural householders required to improve their septic tanks.”