Monday 3 October 2011

Septic tanks plan to cost families €150m

The new septic tank inspection regime could cost rural dwellers up to €150m in upgrade costs. A proposed registration levy has already been set at €50 per household, which should net local authorities a cool €22m.

Nobody has been able to gauge what the potential upgrade costs might be for households with sewage systems that fail to pass the inspection.

However, a survey of 1,000 farmers carried out by the Farming Independent at the National Ploughing Championships clearly shows that one in six farm households are convinced that their tanks will not pass the inspection.

The Department of the Environment estimates that there are 440,000 rural homes with private sewage systems

The average cost of replacing or upgrading faulty tanks has been put at approximately €2,000. Based on these figures, up to 75,000 households will require upgrades amounting to €150m in order to pass the new septic tank inspection regime. This is after rural householders have stumped up €22m in registration fees to local authorities.

While two thirds of farmers in the survey said that they believed that their septic tanks would pass the proposed inspections, this fell to 55pc for partners and spouses of farmers who participated.

Tillage farmers and those with mixed or niche farm enterprises were the most confident sectors in relation to the performance of their sewage systems, while up to 20pc of beef, sheep and dairy farmers believed that their tanks would fail any proposed inspection.

One of the other key points to come out of the survey was the determination of young dairy farmers to expand over the coming year. Over half of all dairy farmers intend to expand over the coming months compared to less than one in three farmers in the sheep, beef or tillage sectors.

The hunger for expansion in dairying comes despite the admission by half of all dairy farmers that they are going to be over quota next March.

The survey will also give the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, cause for satisfaction, with less than one in 10 farmers rating his performance during his first six months in office as poor. His rating is particularly high among dairy farmers.

Farmers were unsure about how they would adapt to the possibility of 2014 becoming a reference year, although younger farmers indicated that they were more likely to lease extra land to maximise entitlements in any new regime.

Darragh McCullough
Irish Examiner

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