Rural dwellers ‘are scared this is just the start’

Just two out of the 31 Fine Gael and Labour councillors on Cork County Council are outwardly opposed to the planned septic tank charge and inspection regime, which has generated massive resistance across the county.

The 31 councillors were all contacted by the Irish Examiner by telephone this week.

Goleen-based county councillor, Dermot Sheehan was the most vociferous in his opposition.

“I am not happy with the charge. I have written to Minister Hogan and Fine Gael headquarters repeatedly about this”. He says the Department of the Environment has told him, however, that “there is no question of people having to upgrade their tanks to comply with the EPA’s 2009 code of practice”. His belief is that any septic tank built before that date will just have “to function properly” as was required at the time of its planning permission.

In Macroom, Labour’s Martin Coughlan criticised the Government’s approach to the new charge, saying it has been a public relations disaster.

“They went around it the wrong way. If the inspections were free, there wouldn’t be half as much agitation.”

In Mallow, Fine Gael’s Noel O’Connor wasn’t against the planned inspection regime, but believes the charge was not a wise political decision:

“The thing is the €50 won’t raise a lot of money. I’m not sure about the wisdom of the charge as they should have got the money in some other fashion as everyone is watching their money and only a small percentage of rural dwellers will be at fault.

“Also, it’s a bit like clamping in the cities. Nobody wants to see them attempting to use power excessively to clean up a small amount of offenders,” he said.

In Ballincollig, Fine Gael’s Derry Canty said he understood how rural dwellers “are scared that this is just the start and that the charge will increase in time”.

A large number of the Fine Gael and Labour TDs have called on the Government to soften the blow for their constituents by establishing a retrofit scheme, similar to the green energy system, so they can get help with any upgrades that might be necessary.

Bantry-based Tom Sheahan said: “I feel very strongly about water being protected. If there are problems with some tanks, there’s a serious need for grant aid then to help those people out. But first we need to identify the problems”

Fine Gael’s John O’Sullivan, based in Courtmacsherry, said people need to realise that the cost of contaminating a neighbour’s water supply is far higher than €50.

“If you contaminate somebody else’s’ water, the €50 fine will be very small in comparison with the litigation you would be facing. If somebody can come out with a better solution than the one being presented, the Government would like to see it,” he said.


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