THE Dáil has passed the Water Services Amendment Bill, the legislation that allows for the septic tank inspection charge by a vote of 76 to 34.
There were heated scenes in the Dáil as Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan who warned that local councils were “unaccountable” and would “squander” the money collected from the charge.
He claimed the charge had nothing to do with providing clean water and everything to do with making money for the government.
Several TDs warned the registration fee would increase dramatically from the initial €50 charge.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted the fee would only cover the costs to local authorities of implementing new water services legislation.
He added that any increase to the fee in the future would have to be approved by a vote in the Dáil.
Meanwhile the latest in a series of meetings in opposition to the charge was held in Bandon last night at the Munster Arms Hotel.
A large crowd turned out to demand the fee is not put in place and warned that rural Ireland was being targeted unfairly by new taxes and charges.
Speaking after the meeting, local Sinn Fein councillor Rachel McCarthy said, “It is the people of rural Ireland who are carrying the can for successive governments failures in implementing a 1975 european directive.
“This legislation should not be passing through the Dáil or Seanad until the full standards by which septic tanks will be assessed have been agreed, published and understood because in the absence of that fear and panic has spread right across rural Ireland.”
Cllr McCarthy said that people were living in of facing bills of several thousand euro to replace or upgrade tanks.
“The communities across rural Ireland are already worried by cuts to education, health and rural transport.
“Yet despite this the minister supported by our local TDs in West Cork continues to defend their decision to rush legislation through without publishing the standards by which septic tanks will be judged and more crucially without offering the reassurance that there will be a fully funded grants scheme”.