Dáil debates

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Other Questions

Septic Tank Registration Scheme

3:05 pm

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the number of septic tanks registered; the registration compliance rate broken down by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12697/13]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 requires householders whose properties are served by on-site wastewater treatment systems to register their system with their local authority. As of 12 March 2013, applications in respect of the on-site wastewater treatment systems of 392,952 owners who have registered online, by post or in person at their local authority offices had been processed. In addition, approximately 35,000 additional registration applications were awaiting processing by the bureau operated by the Local Government Management Agency on that date giving a total compliance rate of approximately 86%.

Registration facilities have been available since 26 June 2012 and have been comprehensively publicised. The deadline for householders to register was 1 February 2013. The Department is consulting with the local authorities regarding the approach to be taken in respect of unregistered systems. Owners of domestic wastewater systems who have not yet registered may still do so and there are no late payment fees payable.

I propose to circulate with the Official Report a tabular statement setting out the number of processed registrations for each county and city council up to 12 March.

Registrations processed as of 12 March 2013

Water Services Authority
Estimated total number of on-site waste water treatment systems¹
Number of on-site waste water treatment systems registered
Number of on-site waste water treatment systems registered as a percentage of the estimated total number
Carlow County Council
7,190
5,445
75.7
Cavan County Council
14,477
12,431
85.9
Clare County Council
19,769
18,290
92.5
Cork City Council
586
511
87.2
Cork County Council
57,993
41,997
72.4
Donegal County Council
32,955
21,566
65.4
Dublin City Council
2,718
112
4.1
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
1,928
1,033
53.6
Fingal County Council
5,213
2,968
56.9
Galway City Council
1,145
681
59.5
Galway County Council
42,161
33,910
80.4
Kerry County Council
28,277
28,773
100.0
Kildare County Council
16,795
12,561
74.8
Kilkenny County Council
15,368
12,053
78.4
Laois County Council
11,309
8,912
78.8
Leitrim County Council
7,005
6,545
93.4
Limerick City Council
420
241
57.4
Limerick County Council
24,207
18,636
77.0
Longford County Council
7,556
6,337
83.9
Louth County Council
11,633
8,279
71.2
Mayo County Council
26,659
23,188
87.0
Meath County Council
21,687
16,503
76.1
Monaghan County Council
12,065
8,158
67.6
North Tipperary County Council
12,342
10,595
85.8
Offaly County Council
11,170
8,435
75.5
Roscommon County Council
14,297
12,717
88.9
Sligo County Council
11,192
9,590
85.7
South Dublin County Council
2,266
1,123
49.6
South Tipperary County Council
14,442
11,402
79.0
Waterford City Council
488
347
71.1
Waterford County Council
11,466
7,998
69.8
Westmeath County Council
12,165
9,832
80.8
Wexford County Council
26,267
21,629
82.3
Wicklow County Council
12,070
10,154
84.1

¹Based on Census 2011

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Have inspections begun and, if not, why not? How much funding is set aside by the Department for grant aid this year pertaining to rectification measures? How much grant aid has been set aside this year and next year? If the amount committed this year is not used for that purpose, can that funding be transferred to grants for disabled people about which we spoke earlier or housing aid for older people?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I am surprised that Deputy Cowen would not want to have a dedicated source of finance for the purpose of remediating septic tanks given that his party opposed this measure.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I asked a question. I made no comment.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Ó Cuív held public meetings around the country telling people not to register and not to pay. He then reversed engines after Christmas when he found there was a grant system. Through Deputy Cowen, I would ask Deputy Ó Cuív whether he will compensate people for the €45 he took from them as a result of advising them up to last September not to pay. This was an outrageous decision by Deputy Ó Cuív, his party and indeed Sinn Féin, which held public meetings telling people not to register and not to pay. Some Independents did the same. These Deputies have cost people €45 each for advocating up to the end of September 2012 that they not pay the sum of €5.

We will have sufficient grant assistance. We will not know the level of grant assistance required until the inspections start in July 2013.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Is provision made for this?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Provision has been made for this measure under the rural water programme. The Deputy cannot expect me to give him the estimate for 2014 in respect of whether money will be available next year. We will know precisely after 1,000 inspections what level of grant assistance will be required on the basis of the numbers that will pass and fail. We already have experience from Cavan.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Speakers have one minute each for a question-and-answer session.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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In respect of the amount of money the Minister claims my colleague and others owe the State so to speak-----

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Is Deputy Cowen going to pay it? Is Fianna Fáil going to pay it?

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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If the Minister will allow me to speak, I will give him the answer. The reason for many of those meetings was to try to force the Minister and Government to make a commitment to put a grant system in place for those people who would require rectification.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Who told them not to pay?

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Until that was done, the Minister had not committed to it. Now he has committed to it, he will not tell me what is his estimate for provision for 2014. I do not expect him to tell me what it is next year because the Cabinet has not sat down to discuss it despite the fact that only four of them do so but I ask him to tell me what provision he has made for this year. He either has or has not made provision. I would imagine that he is obliged to tell the House what provision he has made as an estimate for this function this year. In the event of him not meeting the commitment in the estimate, can he then address an issue that is far more serious and about which we spoke earlier, namely, those less well-off and most vulnerable people, the disabled and those who do not have the clout that the Minister and many of his party have?

In the event of not meeting the commitment, can he make it available to the sector to which I refer, within the envelope of the Department's budget?

3:15 pm

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I have sufficient resources in the rural water programme to meet whatever grant applications are made arising from an inspection and remediation plan that meets the criteria I announced before Christmas.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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What is the big secret?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Inspections have not been carried out as yet. It could be the case that none of them will fail. The Deputy asks me to provide money for a scheme. I am surprised that Deputy Cowen did not compliment the fact that 86% of the people of this country decided to ignore his party as well as Sinn Féin and Independent Deputies by registering online or by post-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I gave them a grant system. I always said there would be financial assistance-----

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister was very slow. It took him 12 months to commit to it.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows that I always said that financial assistance would be available-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Settle down, please, Deputy Cowen.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I know I disappointed the Deputy when he said-----

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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You did not disappoint me.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I disappointed the Deputy enormously when I announced the grant scheme. If the household income is less than €50,000 then 80% of the costs up to a maximum of €4,000 will be available. If the household income is between €50,000 and €75,000, 50% of the cost, up to a maximum of €2,500 will be available. There will be no financial assistance available if the household income exceeds €75,000. I can assure the Deputy that there will be sufficient moneys in the Estimate to cater for people who are in a difficult situation arising from remediation.

Deputy Cowen got it wrong too.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Wallace is looking to speak. Please be brief, Deputy, as we are out of time.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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I will definitely be brief. The Minister has indicated that inspection will only be applied to a minority of the tanks yet he says he is serious about cleaning up the water table. How, in God's name, can he be sure he can clean up the water table if he does not inspect all the tanks? On my second question, the Minister has capped the grant at €4,000. We know that in some cases a Bio-Crete system will be required which will cost €8,000 to buy and approximately €2,500 to fit. Will those people be caught for €6,500?

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Wallace was also someone who opposed the registration process in this scheme. I am sure he will acknowledge that the people of Wexford, 75% of whom have registered-----

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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Fear is a great thing.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I am sure he will support me when I say that this is a very good response from the people of Wexford who ignored Deputy Wallace in the process. The inspections will be on a risk-based approach which I have outlined on a number of occasions.

Photo of Luke FlanaganLuke Flanagan (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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The Minister never moved until after the all-Ireland.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Flanagan has troubles of his own.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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Do not penalise him.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The plan has been approved by the Commission. It requires that a minimum of one thousand inspections are to be carried out by the Water Services Authority over the 12 month period commencing in July 2013.

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
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The Minister did not answer my second question. I asked two questions.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I did.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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We are out of time on this question.