THE introduction of septic tank grants up to €4,000 has been roundly welcomed by local elected representatives, with both Sinn Féin and Labour praising the decision by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, to provide assistance for lower income households.
Senator John Whelan said that the scheme should allay the fears of householders who are worried about large costs they might incur if their systems fail an inspection.
“The scheme will provide a higher level of support for those on lower income,” he said. “Those with a household income of less than €50,000 may be eligible for a grant of up to €4,000, while households with an income of over €50,000 may quality for a grant of up to €2,500.”
The senator said there had been a lot of scaremongering about penal costs which failure to pass the septic tank inspection might inflict. “This grant scheme is fair and reasonable and will be welcomed by septic tank owners,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD, Brian Stanley, claimed that the announcement of grants for septic tank repairs is a result of a strong campaign against the charges.
“While the news of the grants is welcome, it is due to the pressure placed on the Minister by those of us who campaigned against the septic tanks charges during the year,” said Dep Stanley.
He explained that for households with income up to €50,000 the maximum grant available is €4,000 or 80% of the cost, while for households with incomes between €50,000 and €75,000 the maximum grant will be €2,500 or 50% of the cost, whichever is the lesser.
“Sinn Féin has been consistent over the past 18 months in demanding full financial assistance for rural households to upgrade their waste water treatment systems. This situation arose due to the failure of previous governments to deal with this issue and ensure proper standards during construction. Out of 207,000 households 42% have still not registered.
Dep Stanley said that the increase in the grant for group sewage schemes is also to be welcomed. He described the previous grant of €2,031 per house as unrealistic and said there was little take up.
“I pointed this out on many occasions in the Dáil to Minister Hogan and the increase to €6,500 is far more realistic. The increase in this grant and the provision of the new grant for septic tanks will go some way to improving ground water quality in rural areas. It will also create some badly needed employment in the construction sector,” he concluded.
To be eligible for a grant householders must have registered their system before February 1, 2013. Grants will only be available where systems have been inspected by local authorities and found to be in need of remediation.