GRANT REGULATIONS and red tape surrounding septic tanks have been blamed with building barriers stopping vacant houses from coming back into use across Clare.
As per an EPA report released at the end of June this year titled ‘domestic waste water treatment systems inspection in 2022’, it revealed that half of septic tanks failed their inspection in 2022 and 20 percent were identified as a risk to human health and the environment.
In a proposal before the September sitting of Clare County Council, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) asked that Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien (FF) “urgently reform the ineffective septic tank grant regulations and remove the red tape which disqualifies affected households from accessing a grant”.
Malfunctioning septic tanks are posing a risk, he flagged while also arguing that ground and surface water quality could be better protected. “The wide-ranging reform should include for a provision to enable householders to self-report a fault to the local authority so that they might qualify for the grant and take the necessary action to ensure the septic tank is not a water, environmental or health hazard”.
Ennis based Cllr Flynn outlined that there an approximate 57,000 homes in Co Clare, 46,000 of which are private households, 6,000 are vacant and 5,000 are holiday homes. He maintained that more than 10,000 of these properties were served by a septic tank, “looking at the current grant scheme it is not leading to faulty septic tanks to be repaired and replaced”. He added, “it is an obstacle stopping vacant houses from coming back into use”.
North Clare residents have been raising the matter, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) said. “Tying this into other schemes that are there makes sense,” he felt. “We are looking at an investment of €30m into the housing stock in Clare, if we were told that was possible we would be doing summersaults,” the Lisdoonvarna man stated.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) remarked that she was going to table a motion on the topic next month. “The grant scheme in place is for very limited areas of the county, most of the area is in the Burren area, the Council have to be restrictive in what we can approve because they need to be able to prove the demand in sensitive areas, we need to be more generous and not have it so restrictive”.