The Irish Farmers Association recently branded proposed legislation that will introduce mandatory inspections on septic tanks as “another tax on rural Ireland” and claimed that the much hyped septic tank charge will seriously affect up to half a million rural dwellers. According to the IFA, rural dwellers already pay the price for having a septic tank, with urban dwellers spared the cost of desludging.
Minister Phil Hogan, that lover of stealth taxation, claims that legislation is necessary to prevent the State facing a fine for failure to comply with an EU Directive. Ireland faces a €40 million fine in 2015 and daily fines thereafter unless mandatory inspections are put in place.
There is speculation that the septic tank inspection fee will cost up to €300 a year for each household. It is possible that anyone who has a septic tank that needs to be upgraded could face bills running to several thousand euro.
Sinn Féin agrees that in the interest of public health the European Court judgement must be complied with. However the party completely disagrees with the government’s approach and its planned septic tank charge. Once again Phil Hogan has seen an opportunity to introduce another unfair tax on the Irish people. The results of this tax could be devastating for rural Ireland, and could see many houses being abandoned as owners find that they cannot afford to upgrade their sewage system.
Sinn Féin has proposed that it is unfair to ask people to pay this extra charge in the current economic climate and that instead funding should be taken from the NTMA reserves to fund a body that will carry out inspections through the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. This body could employ 20 people over the ten years, after which it would be reviewed with a view to harmonisation with the 6 Counties system. NTMA funding could also provide for a €20million fund to allow for upgrades and refits to septic tanks.