Sam Foster Approves Fees For Discharge Consent Applications
Published on Thu, 11 Oct 2001
For the first time in Northern Ireland, businesses and landowners will pay to apply to discharge effluent into the environment legally, Sam Foster MLA, Minister of the Environment, announced today.
Mr Foster has introduced a Scheme of Fees to cover the cost of administering the applications system for discharge consents, which allow businesses and landowners not connected to public sewerage system to discharge effluent under strict conditions into waterways or soakaways.
The Minister said: "These fees will be applicable from 29 October 2001 and will be reviewed in April 2002, and annually thereafter. This is in line with the government’s policy on cost recovery.
"My Department has taken into account many concerns raised during the public consultation and by the Environment Committee, about the level of the proposed fees.
"As a result of an efficiency and costs review I have reduced the level of fees proposed in the consultation paper significantly. Application fees for trade discharges have been reduced from £1050 to £865, and for single domestic septic tanks and some other categories from £120 to £110.
"This is evidence how my Department and I listen to concerns raised at consultation and, while keeping costs for industry and the public down, we can recoup the actual level of administrative expenditure."
The fees now being introduced have also been amended from the published proposals to take account of District Council representations that a reduced fee should be applicable to those who make application to transfer an existing consent to reflect only a change of ownership. This fee has been set at £30, which Mr Foster observed was an example of the Department being prepared to take on board a practical suggestion by local elected representatives.
During the Consultation, the Environment Committee asked the Department to investigate whether an element of incentive charging could be built into the scheme, to promote the reduction of the discharge load on Northern Ireland’s waterways. The Minister noted that this suggestion was being actively investigated by officials in the current review of the level of fees and charges for 2002-03. In particular, the Department is considering whether the annual monitoring charge for discharge consents can be structured to reflect the fact that dischargers who comply with their discharge consents impose lower cost burdens on the Department. This annual charge is due to be first introduced in April 2002.
Notes to Editors
- In November 2000, DOE published, for public consultation, its proposals to introduce for the first time ever a Cost Recovery Scheme, Covering Applications Fees and Annual Charges for Discharges to Waterways and Underground Strata. They were made free of charge to applicants previously.
- These fees are enabled under powers contained in the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999, which came into operation on 24 August 2001.
- Details will be available in leaflet form and on the website www.ehsni.gov.uk
- Definition of Discharge Consent: If a domestic or trade premises cannot be connected to the public sewer the owner must apply, in advance, to DOE Environment and Heritage Service. When EHS is satisfied that the proposed method of discharge is in order and the local environment can sustain such, EHS will grant consent to make a discharge of effluent from a septic tank or treatment plant to a waterway or to an underground soakaway system.
- Further information contact Paddy Murphy DOE Press Office tel. 028 9054 0014