EC To Seek Further Fines against Ireland

Hogan expresses disappointment with the ECJ case ruling on septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems.

19/05/11

Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (Thursday 20 May 2011) expressed his disappointment at the European Commission’s announcement that it intended to seek the imposition of financial penalties by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in relation to their judgment on septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems despite the Government’s swift action on the matter.

”Achieving compliance with the ECJ ruling is a high priority for my Department and for the Government. Due to a lack of political will from the previous administration since October 2009, the ECJ ruling found that Ireland had failed to make adequate legislation for dealing with domestic waste-water from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. This Government recently approved the urgent drafting and publication of the necessary legislation. My aim is to have the legislation considered and enacted by the Oireachtas without delay.

“The Court ruling requires the introduction of new legislation setting performance standards for existing septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems and the introduction of an inspection and monitoring system for such systems.

“I am, naturally, very disappointed that the Commission has decided to escalate the case at this time, particularly given the speed with which the new Government has acted on this matter. Considerable work has been undertaken by my Department since the judgment in developing the response. Last year, extensive stakeholder consultations were undertaken and more than 50 submissions were received by my Department. Following this, legislative proposals and a Regulatory Impact Analysis were prepared and these were considered and approved by the Government last week. Work is also at an advanced stage on the inspection criteria which will be at the centre of the new system – these have been developed with the close co-operation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the local authorities.

“My Department has also been in on-going contact with the Commission in order to develop an appropriate response to the ruling and I am confident that any concerns the Commission has in this case will be addressed quickly and comprehensively in the proposals that are being brought forward.”

ENDS
Contact: Yvonne Hyland, Department of Environment, Community & Local Government
0868508879

Press Office
Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government
Custom House
Dublin 1
Ph:01 8882638
www.environ.ie

Additional Information for Editors:

There are more than 440,000 houses in Ireland have septic tanks or other similar on-site wastewater treatment systems.

Reports from the EPA have identified septic tanks as a potential source of water pollution, particularly of groundwater sources which are an important source of drinking water for many people. 

At present, there is no system for the inspection or monitoring of the performance of septic tanks and similar on-site systems and the Court ruling has highlighted this as a major weakness in our overall environmental management structures. This will be addressed by the new legislation. The two primary objectives of the new monitoring and inspection system will be the protection of public health and of the environment

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