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Rural householders should report their leaking septic tanks

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Rural householders with defective septic tanks should have the opportunity to report this matter to the local authority and tap in to the grants available to carry out the necessary repairs or modifications.

This is the view of a Galway West TD who explained that under the current legislation, houses with septic tanks are being inspected on a random basis and home owners do not have the facility to report a tank that is leaking.

However, the vast majority of householders would consider this move as “bringing trouble on themselves” by reporting a faulty septic tank which could cost thousands of euro to repair.

But Deputy Noel Grealish said that he had come across a number of elderly people who had dated septic tanks which were leaking and wanted the opportunity to either repair or replace them with the assistance of grants that are available.

He said that householders with leaking septic tanks will not carry out repairs without getting some financial assistance from the State. At the moment they can only avail of grant assistance if their septic tanks are randomly inspected.

The local authorities do not have the resources to carry out extensive septic tank inspections which means that, on average, around 50 County Galway houses had their tanks inspected during the course of 2013.

Deputy Grealish is now calling for changes to the Water Services Act to allow the public to ask for an inspection to be carried out on their own septic tanks if they wish to.

“I know of an elderly couple who have an antiquated septic tank which is leaking. They simply want an inspection carried out on it so that they can then apply for grant assistance to upgrade it”, he added.

He explained that homeowners cannot apply for grant aid to carry out repairs to their septic tank unless they are officially inspected by the local authority.

“The purpose of the Water Services Amendment Act 2012 is to improve the quality of ground and surface water and prevent pollution from domestic waste water treatment plants, but  inspections will only be carried out randomly and homeowners cannot request the local authority to inspect their septic tanks if they believe that it is not performing correctly.

“As people can only qualify for a grant if their septic tank is inspected and deemed inadequate, I foresee a situation whereby homeowners will not maintain or repair their systems, as they cannot apply for a grant unless a random inspection occurs.’

“The legislation needs to be changed to enable people who think their septic tank is inadequate to request an inspection and when necessary apply for a grant for repairs, Deputy Grealish added.

Connacht Tribune

RTÉ – the new teachers in our little rural kindergarten

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

Maybe, it’s better to put the record straight right from the start. I’m not a member of the Far Right . . . I’m not an anti-vaxxer . . . I’m not a denier of climate change . . . I’m even inclined to believe in God at times, but last week when one of the ‘big wigs’ of RTÉ News went on Twitter to deliver a lecture on climate change, I genuinely felt that I had returned to some sort of national kindergarten.

Overall, we’ve had a pretty average Summer, a fair bit cooler than normal for April, May and June as evidenced by the average temperatures from the Met Éireann stations. For example, at the Athenry station, the average temperature for the year so far stands at 9.4° Celsius, 0.5°C below the long-term average of 9.9°C. Then we get a fabulous couple of weeks of sunshine, higher than normal temperatures (albeit a little bit too hot for the likes of me), and the lectures start about climate change.

I’m not even a great fan of the heat. Outdoor farm work in the evenings tends to get a bit too uncomfortable if the thermometer even starts to approach the mid-20s and especially so if there’s humidity in the air and the nights don’t cool. But, in all probability, we have enjoyed the peak of our summer weather. The rest of August is predicted to be pretty much of a mixed bag, and if anything, a bit cooler than normal.

We all know that our world is warming and that a whole series of measures are being put in place with general international co-operation to try and at least slow down that trend, but every time a bit of a wind blows, or we get a fine week, do we have to be hit with the hammer of climate change. Maybe, just give us a little break when we get a fine spell of weather; just tell people to get out into the great outdoors and simply enjoy it, with of course all the usual health caveats as regards UV rays and the pandemic.

I know that I’m not the first one to carry this torch and last week, one of our Independent TDs in the West of Ireland and a turfman of note, Michael Fitzmaurice, also had taken enough of the lectures from RTÉ’s Dublin base.

He didn’t spare the man – MD of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, Jon Williams – who had made the Twitter apology for not linking climate change in news reports to our recent fine spell of weather. Deputy Fitzmaurice described this grovel as ‘sickening propaganda’. There and then, I just felt that Mick Fitzmaurice’s sentiments struck a chord with a lot of rural people across the West of Ireland.

Read the full Country Living column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

New legislation will address Shannon Callows

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POWER needs to be wrested from the ESB as a matter of urgency in relation to their control of water levels along the lakes of the Shannon, according to a Galway Minister of State and a local farming representative.

Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and long-time flood-relief campaigner from Meelick, Michael Silke, told the Farming Tribune that the ESB’s control of lake water levels along the river was causing hardship for people living in flood hit areas.

“The legislation dealing with the control of water levels along the Shannon lakes dates back to 1934 in the era of the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric project.

“But things have changed since. Now, only one per cent of our electricity comes from Ardnacrusha and I accept that it is way past time this legislation was updated,” said the Minister of State at the Dept. of Children, Disability and Equality.

She pledged that this issue would be tackled in the Government’s Autumn programme of legislation with the specific aim of setting up an overall Shannon River authority which would take control of all flooding issues relating to the waterway.

On Thursday of last week (July 29), Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan, and Minister of State at the Dept. of Agriculture, Senator Pippa Hackett, were brought on a boat trip of the Shannon to look at flood pinch points.

However, according to Michael Silke, he was disappointed that this boat trip did not travel through the backwater areas of the river between Banagher and Meelick, where the pinch points actually were located.

“They went on the navigation route which did not take them into the backwaters of the channel where the pinch points are located, and we were certainly disappointed with that.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Worry of walkers claiming against farmers

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Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy

FARMERS in hill-walk areas such as Connemara need to have their concerns allayed about insurance indemnification, the IFA has warned this week.

A pilot insurance project for farmers – as outlined by Rural and Community Development Minister, Heather Humphrey – is in the pipeline but has not yet been enacted into legislation.

Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, said that farmers in such areas needed the clear reassurance that if walkers on their farm had a fall or mishap, then the landowners would not be liable for any compensation.

“This really is a red line issue for farmers and landowners. They must be guaranteed in law that if hill-walkers are allowed on their lands that no liability will attach to the landowner if something happens,” said Pat Murphy.

He said that while farmers supported the principle of people being able to access the more scenic areas of the countryside, the issue of insurance indemnification had to be crystal clear.

“We also know that the issue of dogs being let roam by people out on country walks is one that needs to be addressed.

“The first thing a dog will do that’s let roam free will be to follow the nearest animal they see, and this is a major worry especially for sheep farmers,” said Pat Murphy.

Meanwhile, National Hill Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has expressed concerns about recreational users not abiding by the Countryside Code during the recent spell of good weather.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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