2 - Environmental Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 2 (Environmental Policy) held on Tuesday 18th September, 2012 at 11:00am in The Meeting Room, Environmental Services Section, Cleveragh Business Park, Sligo


  • Councillor Hubert Keaney.



  • Councillor Mary Barrett,
  • Mr. Fergal Spain,
  • Mr. Brendan Queenan,
  • Ms. Kathleen Henry,
  • Councillor Veronica Cawley.



  • Ms. Kathleen McGuinness,
  • Councillor David Cawley,
  • Councillor Aoiffe McLoughlin,
  • Councillor Dara Mulvey.



  • Mr. Tom Kilfeather, Director of Service,
  • Mr. Fineen O’Driscoll, A/Senior Engineer,
  • Ms. Eithne Garvin; Administration Officer,
  • Ms. Rosie Morrissey, A/Executive Scientist,
  • Mr. Enda Killoran, A/Assistant Scientist,
  • Ms. Olivia Black, A/Assistant Staff Officer.


In the absence of Councillor Pat McGrath, Councillor Mary Barrett proposed that Councillor Hubert Keaney chair the meeting and this was seconded by Mr. Brendan Queenan.



Proposed by Mr. Fergal Spain.

Seconded by Ms. Kathleen Henry.

and agreed

“To confirm and adopt Minutes of the SPC Environmental Policy meeting held on 27th June 2012”.



Enda referred to the Minutes of the last SPC Meeting held on 27th June 2012, item 3. Registration of Domestic Wastewater Systems row five There are approximately 50,000 septic tanks in Sligo due for registration…. this should say to the best of our knowledge that figure is 10,000.

Tom advised that there are now 1,031 septic tanks registered in Co. Sligo and after 28th September 2012 the fee will increase to €50.



Rosie gave all present a booklet Protect our Water – Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems Registration and an information leaflet on the Registration and Inspections of domestic wastewater treatment systems.  A discussion followed on the leaflet:

  • Registration – €5 until 28th September 2012 after this date it will increase to €50.  The Certificate of Registration will be valid for five years and re-registration will be required after five years, there will be no fee payable for second or subsequent registrations.
  • It is an offence not to register systems by 1st February 2013.
  • The basic standard to be met by all domestic wastewater treatment systems is that they do not cause a risk to human health or the environment.  The regulations also provide for the operation, maintenance and desludging of treatment systems.
  • The Environmental Protect Agency is developing a National Inspection Plan.  The Agency will use a risk-based approach in developing the Plan.
  • Inspections – Householders will be formally notified when inspections are to take place and inspectors will have formal Identification.  It has not been clarified who will carry out the inspections.


Failures and non-compliance:

  • Councillor Keaney enquired what will happen in relation to poor sites that are non compliant.Rosie stated that the EPA are carrying out research projects in relation to willows beds with zero discharges and drip feed systems and this will be addressed by the EPA at the training course.  Councillor Keaney enquired in relation to allowing discharges to surface waters. RM stated that this is not considered acceptable especially since Wexford County Council had an issue with discharges to surface waters. The EPA should be addressing the options available at the training course.
  • Enda said obvious onsite ponding and pipes from systems discharging into a drain will be checked.  Councillor Keaney said the public are asking and not really know what will happen.  Mr. Queenan mentioned that there are no grants available which will have financial implications for the rural community.  Fineen said it will come down to resources as the €5 at registration is a fee valid for five years and this money will not stretch very far.  Mr. Spain said the big problem is to get people to register as they are worrying about inspections, the intrusion and big costs involved.
  • Existing planning for extensions - Councillor Keaney asked if planning is given easier for extensions. Rosie advised that the council look at the existing system and work with the site assessors to try and come up a solution that will work.  Fineen said if a site is unsuitable and people are living in the house it can prove difficult, however we work with the site assessors and reach a suitable decision.  Enda envisages more complaints to which Councillor Barrett said they will have to be acted on.  Enda said inspection will commence in 2013 and the duty will be on the owner of the house to have all in order. 



Fineen suggested that members put forward items for the Agenda.  Mr. Spain asked for the remit of the SPC to which Tom said we have a role in discussing and developing Environmental policies, which can go before Council members for further discussion and decisions. Fineen said Environment will keep members informed on all Environmental issues, acts, legislation etc.

Hubert asked about a visit to a Waste Water Treatment Plan maybe Kilsellagh or Sligo Main Drainage to which Tom said it is something that can be organised for the Committee to go on maybe after the next meeting.

Councillor Keaney complemented the Tidy Towns on their good work and good results, he said towns and villages have noticeable improvements with gates painted, lovely flowers and less litter. Councillor Barrett seconded it.  Kathleen Henry said in the Tidy Towns report they mentioned the traffic light sequence at Adelaide Street and John Street Junction and the one-way system to which Tom said he was unsure why this was in the middle of the report.


Meeting concluded at 11:40 a.m.




Meeting Date 18/09/2012