Ireland fined by European Court of Justice – Over Septic Tanks and Environmental Impact Assessments

19th December 2012
Press Release

Ireland today became the sixth country to be fined by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Ireland was fined twice today, once for not complying with a Judgement on Septic Tanks issued in October 2009 and again for not complying with a Judgement on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) issued in November 2008.

The October 2009 ECJ judgment was on foot of the ‘Waste Directive 75/442/EEC’ that Ireland negotiated, agreed and signed up to in 1975 and has dragged its feet about ever since. The lump sum fine of €2,000,000 (reduced from the amount requested because of steps taken and because of the fact that Ireland’s ability to pay has to a certain degree been diminished in the context of economic crisis) is for failing over the last 3 years to honour the 2009 judgement. The daily fine of €12,000, calculated from today, represents a Civil Servant’s annual salary every 4 days and will continue until a satisfactory registration, inspection and maintenance regime is in place.

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications Officer of An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland stated “It is essential that Ireland puts in place a satisfactory inspection and maintenance regime for septic tanks for the health and safety of our families, our water and our environment and not just for the fact that we are being fined €12,000 a day”.

Charles Stanley-Smith further stated “An Taisce believes that nobody has the right through inaction to threaten another’s right to clean water and a clean environment and calls upon owners of septic tanks to register as soon as possible and suitably maintain their systems.” He continued “The truth is that the wheels of European justice turn extraordinarily slowly and Ireland has had many opportunities to sort this problem. An Taisce hopes that the imposition of daily fines will focus minds on the need to protect our environment and secure good water quality, as well as the broader need to tackle other serious environmental issues.”

An Taisce warned of the consequences of the proliferation of unsewered properties, there have been 170,000 such planning permissions in last ten years. Most of these dwellings have been permitted with little regard to our precious water resources. This has led to increased costs to homeowners for inspection and maintenance and to the state in terms of today’s fines and Minister Hogan’s recent announcement of grants to suitably qualified applicants.

The November 2008 judgement on the EIA case related to the need to ensure proper environmental impact assessments in projects such as the removal of hedgerows and old stone walls. The ECJ believes that current legislation now deals with the issues raised and has fined Ireland €1,500,000 (reduced from the amount requested because of steps taken and because of the fact that Ireland’s ability to pay has to a certain degree been diminished in the context of economic crisis), for delay in the period since the 2008 judgement.

ENDS

For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce Communications –

Tel: 087 2411995

Email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org

An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland