“We want to see our ground water clean, but if we have to upgrade our septic tanks we want it grant aided” was the call from Newcastle West Cllr. Michael Collins at and after a public meeting in Newcastle West on Mon-day night. Cllr. Collins was among a number of public representatives at a meeting that attracted up to 500 people convened by the Citizens Against Charges movement.

Under new provisions, septic tanks will have to be registered with the local authority and a €50 fee paid. The tanks will then be subject to inspection and if found to be deficient in any way, remedial works will be prescribed and will have to be carried out, incurring what could be considerable cost for many householders. The new regulations are not applicable to householders in towns and villages who are serviced by public sewerage schemes.

According to Cllr Collins, for a number of years now “those building houses in rural areas are charged high development levies and they get no service for that money. It is spent on upgrading sewerage schemes, lighting and footpaths in towns and villages,” he said.

Local authorities are char-ged with the implemen-tation of the new septic tank inspections and it is something the Newcastle West Councillor is critical of. “The problem is that local authorities are not always compliant them-selves, and it is wrong to expect rural dwellers to pay fees when the local authorities are not compliant,” Cllr Collins said.

“The attendance at Monday evening’s meeting was an extremely clear signal of the level of interest/concern evident amongst rural people with regard to septic tank standards,” said Cllr Jerome Scanlan, who was also present. He com-plimented the organisers and described the event as a very valuable forum and one that helped identify what people’s fears are. He stated that “the minister responsible needs to reassure the public that all who complied with their conditions of planning whenever granted do not have anything to worry about in terms of the water quality directive.” Echoing Cllr. Collins’s concern about local authorities being compliant, Cllr. Scanlan called on Min-ister Hogan to ensure that all local authority sewage treatment plants meet the required standards in advance of commencing checks on the septic tanks of domestic users.