Notes from the meeting of the Southern Committee, 21/07/2014

Present: Maurice Manning (Corporate Services), Declan Daly (Director of Services, Environment), Ted O’Leary (Senior Executive Officer)

Allocation of Community Fund 2014

Details of grants awarded under the Community Fund and Community Contracts were circulated to Members.   There were 46 applications in total, 16 of which were better for Amenity Fund scheme.  9 applications were not deemed appropriate.  There were 6 applications for community contracts.  All were successful.

The Amenity Grant Scheme will have a closing date of 30th September.

Will circulate applicants who weren’t successful.  The primary reason for not providing funding to some groups is that they just don’t have sufficient matching funding.

In response to Cllr Harris: Douglas Hall – there is already significant funding in place to enable that project to take place.

In response to Cllr McCarthy (FG): The Midleton My Place project has had significant support from CCC and Midleton TC in the past so was not supported this time.  The fire station building was belonging to CCC originally.  Midleton TC gave the project €70k.  This was well in excess of what would normally be granted through community fund.  Cllr McCarthy agreed, but said they got this funding through TC.  Also pointed out that the My Place project had to purchase the fire station building from CCC.

Cllr Buckley (SF): Is it possible for Midleton My Place to go back in for funding next year?  Once the Town Council gave all its funding, the assets all fell back to CCC.

Maurice Manning:  Any project can apply any year.

Environment Directorate Report

Ted O’Leary read through the Environment Directorate Report.

There are 53,000 registered septic tanks in County Cork.  There are probably 58,000 in total.  CCC has been allocated only 99 inspections up to the end of June because the national programme is still in pilot project phase.  When it moves from pilot, the number of inspections required will likely jump.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Wants specifics on air and noise non-compliances.  What about Slatty Bridge transfer to Irish Water?  Does CCC generate any renewable energy?

Cllr Moynihan (FF): Septic tank inspection programme.  The 61% failure rate is high.  The 15 systems with the major non-compliances almost mask the other problems, eg the roof water issues will need significant sorting out.  The fact that there is only 17% addressed at this stage suggests people are struggling with the scheme.  What figures are available for grants?  Will the CCC be involved in getting figures for that?

Dog licences – lifetime licence.  Cost will be an issue for many people.  What efforts are being made to promote this?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  P5 – pH indicators telling us that there are exceedences.  In Crookstown there is lead piping from mains into the houses.  If acidic pH, this would make problems worse.

P 10 – 2 inspectors for septic tanks now.  How many more staff will be needed when the programme kicks in?  At risk areas within the zones.  Could we be informed as to where these are?

Macroom wwtp non compliances?  Talk about these.

Private wastewater treatment plant non-compliances – what about penalties?

Cllr Creed (FG): Quality of the water in Crookstown is abysmal.  Complaints come in all the time.  We have had reports saying safe but residents are still worried.  Is there any plan for putting in new system?

Septic tanks – There is a grant scheme in place for septic tanks that fail.  Fail rate may be 61% but once the desludging figures are taken out, the failure rate is much lower.  Thinks public wants to get on this scheme.

Cllr Canty (FG): People are on all the time about the taste of the water.  Trying to kill the taste with additives.  Has to be a fierce upgrading of Inniscarra.  With low level in the lake at present, you can see the growth of algae in the water.

How many crews do we have working on the ground at present in relation to repairs?  People were out for 3 days on the Model Farm Road with no available crew to sort them out.  Water will discolour when reconnected.  Are people going to have to pay for this discoloured water?

Fluoride issue has to be dealt with.

Dog licences – can something be done in the Regional Park in Ballincollig?  People open their doors and let the dogs out.  We have signs up but people are not obeying them.  Dog wardens were out there for a few mornings and then disappeared again.  People asking for permanent dog warden.

Welcomes Green Schools programme.

Cllr Harris (Ind): Domestic waste service handed to CountryClean.  The number of people falling through the cracks is getting worse and worse.  Any emergency service part of CountryClean contract?

Fluoride in water is indeed becoming a major issue.

Cllr Barry (FG): Littering and fines – are the rates the same as last year?

Horses – 53 trips where no horses were collected.  Why?  Notes €450 reimbursed from the Dept but the service is costing €710 per horse.

Cllr Conway (Ind): How often are inspections carried out in municipal wastewater treatment plants?

Cllr Forde (FG):  Clean up jobs – do we have a cost of those?  Knows very difficult to catch these dumpers so fines income not great in this area.  People need to be made aware of what this costs.  People who are dumping are costing each and every one of us money.

Public drinking water – fluoridation – review due before end of year.  Guidelines say that we MAY have fluoridation.  What is the current position in relation to CCC on that

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  In 2009 the DoE asked that all local authorities make water quality data available on their websites.  To be current to within a month.  Most recent on CCC website is Nov/Dec 2013.  Will this be a CCC responsibility going forward or will it be transferred to Irish Water?

Explain why 5 Blue Flags were lost on South Cork beaches last year, even though weather was good?

How does the CCC Agricultural Inspection Programme dovetail with that of the Department of Agriculture?

Private wastewater discharge licences – clear that not all visits involve sampling.  Also high % of non-compliances.  What parameters are generally non-compliant?

Civic amenity sites – would like figures for tonnages going back 12 years.  Believes charging structure at civic amenity site gates may have affected their popularity and is contributing to fly tipping.  Would like to investigate.

Horses – how many spaces do you have for horses in the pound?  How long are they kept alive?

Cllr Buckley (FG):  Al indicator in Midleton.  Al tastes bad.  How does Al get into the system?

Cllr McCarthy (FG): Recyclables – there are a few bring sites in the area that are run by CCC but Whitegate doesn’t appear to have those facilities.  Have tried to get in contact with Liam Singleton but he doesn’t seem to do the phone.  Maybe email?
Answers (Ted O’Leary)

David Keane (County Engineer) is in charge of water services directorate.  The environment directorate is involved in monitoring only.  So the questions on crews, fluoride, etc. must be answered by the water services directorate.

To Cllr O’Laoghaire: Noise and air pollution – licences issued under the Air Pollution Act relate to emissions from chimney stacks.  Also includes certain industries who are licensed for the purposes of noise.  Main involvement in relation to noise is generally responding to noise pollution complaints.

Doesn’t know if CCC generates electricity.  Will ask Pat Farrell, SEE of the Energy Unit to reply directly to Cllr O’Laoghaire.

To Cllr Moynihan: Non-compliances are not straightforward for householders to deal with but the timescale given to householders to address the problem is quite long.  Relatively early days – inspection programme started only in the latter half of last year.  Usually 12 months allowed to address issues raised.

Is grants scheme available to people who have been inspected and registered?  Yes, to a max of €4.5k.  CCC processes applications but doesn’t have data on what is awarded.  Will include this in reports going forward if required.

Dog licences – not aware that lifetime licence is promoted over the annual licence.

To Cllr O’Grady: Septic tanks – there are more than 2 staff doing inspections.  It is being undertaken by staff in agricultural team.  The director will have to see how many staff it will need when the full programme kicks in.  Currently we have had teams of 6 people going out.  It will be a slow and person-intensive process.  Takes on average half a day to do an inspection.

High risk zones – we are guided by EPA guidance documents.  This document is on public record.

Macroom wwtp – cannot comment on operational specifics.

Taste issues and repair crews – for David Keane.

In response to Cllr Canty: Dog fouling in Regional Park – dog wardens have been assigned to the area for periods in the past.  Will take it up with the veterinary dept to see can it be patrolled in the short-term.

In response to Cllr Harris: There was a transitionary waiver scheme in place in the initial phase of the tranfer of waste collection to County Clean.  That is no longer available.  The waste collection business was actually sold to Country Clean, not outsourced.  Company said that they would honour waivers for 2 years.  This is long gone.

In response to Cllr Barry: No information to hand on number of litter fines.

In response to Cllrs Barry and D’Alton on horses – vet safety dept who oversee this legislation.  Recession has had impact on horses collected.  Numbers this year are up over last year so remains a problem.

Number of spaces in horse pound – does not know but has sufficient capacity to deal with problem at present.  Finance does come into this because subvention from Dept of Agriculture does not cover.  Doesn’t know specific time period for keeping horses.  Relates to whether people reclaim them or rehome them.

In response to Cllr Forde: Clean up figures not to hand.

Declan Daly: Last Council passed a motion saying they didn’t want fluoridation.  Wrote to Dept of Health.  The Dept of Health wrote back saying that the national national position had not changed and so the CCC went on fluoridating.

CCC operates as agents to Irish Water.  If we get an instruction from Irish Water to add fluoride, we have to.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: 5 Blue Flags lost – criteria relating to beaches has tightened up.  Last year although the weather was good, the non-compliances were caused by heavy rainfall earlier in the year.  Some of the Blue Flags were lost because of municipal wastewater treatment plants in the area.  These issues take time to address.  Also need longer clean period now before you can requalify.  Need 12 months or more before you get Blue Flag status back.

Private wastewater treatment plants – sizes of commercial activity vary and parameters are specific to activity undertaken.  Monitor by reference to programme that we set out at the start of the year and communicate programme and results to the EPA.  LIcence holders frequently required to do their own monitoring as well.  Will give more details on private wwtps next time round.

Civic Amenity Sites – tonnage figures are available, although they have been somewhat effected by the economic downturn.

Irish Water will make information available about public water quality.  Not CCC any more.

In response to Cllr Buckley: Al is added in salt form to purify the water.  The coagulant settles out so this is where Al in the water may be coming from.
Supplementary Questions

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Noise questions asked were specifically in relation to Ringaskiddy.  Also Slatty Bridge?

Cllr Moynihan (FF): Very low rate of 17% where people have been able to do work on their septic tanks.  These are surely the quick fix.  People are finding it difficult to find the several hundred euro to get the desludging done.  Why are we only getting a half year figure?  Rate of septic tank inspections seems to be going down, not up.

Cllr Barry (FG):  Litter fines – rates?

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  35 non-compliant samples – is there a penalty involved?

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Previous minutes indicated Guidance Document on Septic Tank National Inspection Plan was distributed to Members.  Can new members have this?  Also how long before septic tanks needing addressing are rechecked?

Also explain interaction between CCC Farm Inspection Programme and Dept of Agriculture programme?

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind):  How many litter wardens are in East Cork and County?  There are major issues with fly tipping.

Cllr Cullinane (Ind):  Confirms a letter went from this Council on fluoridation.  We made a decision to send that letter back again to say that we weren’t happy.  Understood from the water briefing that we still have role to play.  European Food Safety Authority is putting pressure on at moment.  Quality of Irish exported food is paramount.  It will be affected by fluoridation.  We need to keep the pressure on.   Need to clarify exactly what our role is as CCC.

Answers (Ted O’Leary)
In response to Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Have to check about Slatty Bridge with Pat Farrell.

In response to Cllr Moynihan:  Wasn’t suggesting that people didn’t find dealing with septic tank programme difficult but was showing that people are being given time to deal with any issues raised.

In response to Cllr Barry:  Rates of litter fines are set under the Litter Acts.  There is a range of minimum and maximum fines depending on the offence.

In response to Cllr O’Grady:  Non-compliant samples – don’t have specifics on the 35 non-compliances.  They are followed up by way of enforcement.  Will provide more detail on the nature of the non-compliances for the next report.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: Agricultural programme – there has been a lot of interaction between the Dept of Ag and the CCC to ensure sure that there is no duplication.  Is a protocol in place to ensure communications place between the two agencies.  Dept of Ag try to structure their programme to match that of CCC.  We had to reduce our Farm Inspection Programme to support the Septic Tank system.

In response to Cllr Linehan-Foley:  There are 3 litter wardens across the entire county.  But the old Town Councils would have had litter wardens who performed traffic warden duty also.  These personnel are being retained, although their jurisdictions have been expanded.  All the traffic wardens are assigned functions under the Litter Pollution Act.

In response to Cllr O’Laoghaire: Noise – By and large for staff resource reasons we stay out of residential to residential complaints.  That is in keeping with EPA guidance.  Predominantly complaints we deal with relate to commercial undertakings.  We try to leave enforcement as being the very last option.  We try to substantiate the claim.  Take it up with the alleged offender.  We find in general that the majority of offenders take steps to address/mitigate the issue.  Noise is a very subjective thing.  No specific limits.  The law of nuisance applies.  To prove a nuisance, you have to have a householder prepared to stand up in court.  Householders do not always want to do this.

In response to Cllr D’Alton: Environment Directorate has scientist with expertise in noise monitoring.  Have taken in consultants on occasion to do independent monitoring.  Didn’t check the Ringaskiddy record before we came out.  Haven’t had a significant number of complaints about noise from Ringaskiddy.


by Councillor Noel Collins

(i) “Council report on what powers, if any, are in place to take action where houses in residential areas are left unoccupied for years and cause and great nuisance and dampness to neighbours, in view of the fact that the derelict sites legislation cannot be currently used if the house is basically intact.”

(ii) “Resulting from the major increase in population figures in the Midleton region, Council report if the capacity of the Reservoir in Broomfield is adequate to meet the demand and what proposals, if any, are envisaged to expand the Reservoir. ”

Maurice Manning: In relation to motion 2, CCC recognises the importance of extending the water main to Midleton.  Determined to have this reincluded in the capital programme.  This will be required for Midleton development.  CCC has contacted Irish Water to make sure it goes on their programme.