Country granted €4.8m discount on fines over EU septic tank regulations

Recession-hit Ireland was granted a €4.8m discount in fines the country faced for failing to adhere to a directive from Brussels on septic tanks.

The concession from the European Court of Justice is revealed in the annual Comptroller and Auditor General report.

Ireland had been facing significant fines for not implementing EU rules on health and safety guidelines for septic tanks.

Following a case brought to the European Court of Justice against Ireland, the Government was ordered to pay huge sums.

The report notes Brussels had proposed Ireland pay a fine of €4,771 for each day between the date of the 2009 judgment and the date the court gave its ruling on the 2011 proceedings.

The commission sought a further fine of €26,173 to be levied for each day between the date of that ruling and the date of full compliance. The total penalty proposed by the commission was €6.86m.

But the report looked at what Ireland had done to comply with the ruling as well as the financial hardship it had experienced.

“The court considered the efforts made by Ireland to comply with the 2009 judgment and the impact of the economic crisis and imposed a lower lump sum penalty of €2m.”

The total fine imposed in the end came to €2.64m.

The report also notes that an initial inspection of septic tanks showed that there was only a 47% compliance rate among owners in how they properly operated tanks.

Up to 423 inspections were carried out in one period. While 199 tank systems passed, 224 failed The review found that in 138 cases (33% of inspections) the system constituted, or was likely to constitute, a risk to human health or the environment.

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