Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (224)

Micheál Martin


227 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the role of local authorities in verifying that only certified septic tanks are installed in accordance with current building regulations; if he is satisfied with the role of the local authorities in fulfilling their responsibilities; his position on establishing a national register of certified septic tank suppliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35630/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government)

Robust arrangements are in place to deliver on the public policy imperative of preserving the quality of Ireland's water resources in keeping with the EU Water Framework Directive. Local authorities have an effective role to play in this regard through the enforcement of performance standards for wastewater treatment and disposal systems set out under Part H of the Building Regulations, which work in tandem with the planning system and the water quality and waste management codes to provide comprehensive protection of water quality.

The design and installation of wastewater treatment systems for single houses is addressed in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Code of Practice in respect of Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses (2009). On foot of a comprehensive review and public consultation, Part H (Drainage and Wastewater Disposal) of the Building Regulations and its accompanying Technical Guidance Document H (TGD H 2010) were amended in the latter half of 2010 to reflect the relevant parts of the EPA's Code of Practice.

In relation to the use of septic tanks in particular, TGD H 2010 states that "Septic Tanks must conform to I.S. EN 12566 Part 1 or 4 including their national annexes and comply with the EPA Code of Practice — Section 7."

The national annexes were recently completed and published by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, in consultation with my Department and others. They set out clearly the performance required by septic tanks when used in Ireland, and tested in accordance with I.S. EN 12566 Parts 1 or 4.

Suppliers of septic tanks must be in a position to produce certification to confirm that their product has been tested in accordance with I.S. EN 12566 Part 1 or 4 and meets the performance requirements set out in the national annex to the standard. Once a supplier can do this, it is not clear what further purpose a national register of certified septic tank suppliers would serve.

Part H/TGD H 2010 came into full effect, following the expiration of the normal planning-related transitional arrangements, on 1 June 2012. I am satisfied that the arrangements now in place are reasonable and appropriate and I have no plans to revisit them at this point.