Marian Harkin, MEP.

Ireland fined over septic tank failures

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has fined Ireland twice today, for not complying with a judgement on septic tanks issued in October 2009 and 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.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 three years to honour the 2009 judgement.The daily fine of €12,000, calculated from today, will continue until a satisfactory registration, inspection and maintenance regime is in place.Independent MEP Marian Harkin said she was "shocked and appalled" by the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose heavy fines on Ireland for breaching EU legislation on wastewater systems.She said the judgement was "shocking from two different perspectives: firstly, it is 19 years since we should have implemented the 1975 Waste Directive and despite repeated warnings and previous court cases, we have not taken the necessary steps to comply".Secondly, "I also consider that a €2 million lump sum fine plus daily fines of €12,000 is extortionate on a member state that is on its knees financially," she added."I am calling on the government to bring forward immediate emergency proposals to finalise the measures needed to ensure compliance. Every single day we waste is throwing good money after bad," the Ireland North and West MEP concluded.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".