Local MEP Marian Harkin has claimed the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government blamed issues with septic tanks as a major cause of water pollution in Ireland.
Ms Harkin in a weekend statement, claimed that the current Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan “accepted that the previous Government failed to make an effective case at the European Court of Justice resulting in the judgement which erroneously indicted septic tanks as a major cause of water pollution in Ireland”.
Independent MEP Harkin said she welcomed statements by the Minister for the Environment during the Dail debate on the septic tank bill indicating that the status of the country’s waters was good. “This indicates that the role of septic tanks as a minor source of pollution was not adequately presented by the Government’s legal team at the European Court of Justice”, she said.
“The only conclusion that can be reached from the Minister’s admissions in the Dail debate is that it suited the previous Government to have an EU focus on septic tanks and not on the major pollution represented by deficient municipal waste water treatment plants”, Marian Harkin said.
She continued: “Those of us who originally challenged the focus on septic tanks as significant sources of pollution and were accused of scaremongering have now had our arguments endorsed by the Ministers admission.
“Furthermore the decision by the Minister, with the apparent consent of the European commission, to implement a risk based strategy for the septic tank inspection programme underlines the minor pollution caused by septic tanks. It also indicates that the decision of the European Court resulted from a misconception of what pollutes in Ireland and what looks now to be the decision of the Government to deliberately cede the case.
“The Government should now present the facts about the hierarchy of pollution sources in Ireland and should, following the revelations in this week’s Dail debate, refocus on the proven threats to achieving the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive.
“Deficient municipal sewerage plants exist all over Ireland and the inadequacy of the current investment programme means that Ireland will miss the opportunity to create a situation where Ireland could so easily emerge as Europe’s table topper in water quality with consequent enhancement of our ability to attract investment and further develop our green tourism sector,” she stated.