Planning Department Kilkenny County Council
In order to inform and assist the public in the process of applying for planning permission, the Planning Section has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Thinking of building a Rural House that requires an onsite sewage treatment system.
You must engage a competent site assessor to determine the suitability of your site (including percolation testing) for installation of a sewage system. The test is known as a Site Characterisation test or Site Suitability Assessment. It is prudent to get this process carried out before you commit expenditure to detailed house designs.
1. In order to protect planning applicants and in an effort to achieve a high quality service, Kilkenny County Council has compiled a list of Site Suitability Assessors. This is a list of persons working in the Kilkenny area and having completed specific training in Site Suitability Assessment. All site characterisation tests must be carried out by a qualified and competent person.
2. To be included on the list, assessors had to demonstrate their understanding of the EPA Site Assessment procedures by passing the FÁS course in "Site Suitability Assessment for onsite Wastewater Management". This course is now provided by the Local Authority Services National Training Group. In addition site assessors must have professional liability indemnity cover of €1 million.
Contact details for persons on this list are available on the Planning home page.
3. The list is provided to assist planning applicants. Applicants are advised however that the site assessors are employed directly by them and that Kilkenny County Council cannot take any responsibility for the quality of the reports produced.
4. Wastewater Treatment System installation Certification: On receipt of full planning permission a site assessor must certify that the onsite system has been constructed/installed in accordance with the provisions in accordance with the provisions of the EPA's Code of Practice: Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses (p.e. ≤ 10) also referred to as the EPA's Code of Practice or EPA, 2009. This certificate must be submitted to the Local Authority prior to the occupation of the house and to comply with the relevent planning condition.
Also see section at bottom of this page for further info.
Q. What is the difference between Outline Planning Permission and Full Planning Permission?
A. Outline planning permission is a two step process. The first step includes lodging an application for outline permission. This step does not require house plans but all other site suitability requirements. It is permission in principle. The planning department must make a decision within 8 weeks and not before 5 weeks. If outline permission is granted it holds a timeframe of 5 years. However, it is important to note that under the Planning & Development Acts 2000-2015, the applicant must apply for the second step (permission consequent on the grant of outline permission) within the first 3 years. The second step requires the applicant to lodge the necessary house plans. The planning department again must make a decision within 8 weeks and not before 5 weeks.
Submission can be made to an outline application within 5 weeks from the date it is lodged. Submission to an application for Permission Consequent on the Grant of Outline which have already been addressed and granted permission under the original outline will not be taken into account e.g. If outline permission is granted for a house, a person cannot lodge a submission regarding a house being built at the second stage which is permission consequent on the grant of outline. At the permission consequent stage, a person wishing to make a submission can generally only make a submission in relation to house design as house plans are submitted at this stage.
Full planning permission is carried out in one step. The applicant lodges all the necessary plans, drawings, site suitability requirements. The planning department must make a decision based on the documents, plans and drawings lodged within 8 weeks and not before 5 weeks. A person must lodge a submission within the first 5 weeks of the planning department. receiving the application. The permission timeframe is 5 years. The development must be completed within the 5 year timeframe.
Q. Do I need to notify the County Council when I wish to commence building and if so what is the procedure?
Information in regard to commencement notices is covered in the Planning's Building Control Section
Q. If I cannot visit the Planning Office, how can I obtain the status of my planning application or another application?
A. There are two methods of obtaining the status of your application or that of another.
The first method would be to simply phone the Planning Department on 056-7794010. If you want to know the status of an application that is not your own you will need to know either the planning reference number (example P06-000) or the name of the applicant and the address of the development.
The second method is via the internet. You can log on to Kilkenny County Councils web-site and access the E-Plan System. This method affords you a lot more information regarding an application. You have two options when searching for planning applications on the E-Plan System. You can retrieve the list of all the applications (received, granted, rejected, etc) in a period of time, or you can search for a name or file number.Link to Planning Search
Once you have obtained the relevant planning application you will be able to view: Name & Address of applicant Development description Development address.
You can also view a site layout and/or aerial photograph of the proposed development from Kilkenny County Councils digital mapping system.
As you can see there is more information available to you by checking the status of planning applications on Kilkenny County Councils web-site.
The following will lead you to the E-Plan system - Click on E-Plan Symbol
Q. When do I advertise my intention to apply for planning permission?
A. Within the period of two weeks before you make the planning application, you are obliged to give notice of your intention to make the application in a newspaper approved by Kilkenny County Council.
Q. What newspapers are approved by Kilkenny County Council for planning advertisements?
A. The following is the approved list of newspapers for planning notices in respect of areas as specified within the functional area of Kilkenny County Council:The following is the approved list of newspapers for planning notices in respect of areas as specified within the functional area of Kilkenny County Council:
- Irish Independent for the entire functional area
- Irish Times for the entire functional area
- Kilkenny People for the entire functional area
- Munster Express for the Development Plan area of Thomastown and for that part of Kilkenny south of Thomastown
- Irish Examiner for Kilkenny City Environs and those parts of the functional area south of Kilkenny City Environs
- Irish News of the World for the entire functional area
- Irish Sun for the entire functional area
- Irish Daily Star for the entire functional area
- Kilkenny Reporter for the entire functional area.
Q. What information should my newspaper notice contain?
A. Your newspaper notice must contain the following:
- Kilkenny County Council as a heading
- The name of the applicant
- The location, townland or postal address of the land or structure to which the application relates
- Whether the application is for permission for development, permission for retention of development, outline permission for development or permission consequent on the grant of outline permission (stating the reference number on the register of the relevant outline permission)
The nature and extent of the development, including:
i. Where the application relates to development consisting of or comprising the provision of houses, the number of houses to be provided
ii. Where the application relates to the retention of a structure, the nature of the proposed use of the structure and, where appropriate, the period for which it is proposed to retain the structure
iii. Where the application relates to development which would consist of or comprise the carrying out of works to a protected structure or proposed protected structure an indication of that fact
iv. Where the application relates to development which comprises or is for the purposes of an activity requiring an integrated pollution control licence or a waste licence, an indication of that fact
v. Where a planning application relates to development in a strategic development zone, an indication of that fact
vi. Where the application is accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement, a statement to that effect
- That the planning application may be inspected, or purchased at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of making a copy, at the offices of the Planning Department, Kilkenny County Council, County Hall, John Street, Kilkenny, during its public opening hours 9.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m. Monday to Friday, and a submission or observation in relation to the application may be made to the Planning Authority in writing on payment of the prescribed fee (€20.00) within the period of 5 weeks beginning on the date of receipt by the Authority of the planning application.
Q. Do I submit the newspaper notice with my application?
A. The full page of the newspaper showing the notice of the application is required to be submitted with your application.
Q. When do I erect my site notice and how long should I leave it up for?
A. Within the period of 2 weeks before you lodge the application, you are required to erect a site notice. The site notice must be maintained on site for a minimum period of 5 weeks from the date you lodge your application.
Q. What information must the site notice contain?
A. The site notice must state the particulars; the nature and extent of the proposed development in the standard site notice form prepared by Kilkenny County Council. The content of your site notice is required to be in line with the content of your newspaper notice.
The site notice must contain the date on which it was erected.
The site notice must be A4 in size and on a white background.
Note: Where a planning application is made in respect of any land or structure and a subsequent application is made within six months from the date of the making the first application, the site notice for the subsequent application is required to be on a yellow background.
Q. Where should I erect the site notice?
A. The site notice is required to be erected or fixed in a conspicuous position on or near the main entrance to the site/structure so as to be capable of being read by passers by from the public road.
It should not be concealed at any time.
Where there is more than one entrance from the public road, further site notices are required at each entrance.
Q. Do I submit a copy of the site notice with my application?
A. A copy of the site notice is required to be submitted with your application.
Q1. What is the Groundwater Protection Scheme?
A. The Groundwater Protection Scheme provides guidance for Kilkenny County Council in decision making on the location, nature and control of developments and activities in order to protect groundwater.
Q2. What is the EPA, Wastewater Treatment Manual, Treatment Systems for Single Houses?
A. The EPA, Wastewater Treatment Manual, Treatment Systems for Single House is essentially a guidance document on the design, operation and maintenance of on-site wastewater treatment systems for a single house. This is available for purchase from the EPA Publications Office, P.O Box 3000, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford.
Q3. Is there a specific minimum site size requirement for planning purposes?
A. In general the answer is no, within either an urban or rural area.
In urban areas where a connection to the public water supply and sewerage network is available no minimum site size requirement applies.
In rural areas there is no specific site size requirement but it is more complex as you are required to meet the separation distances as set out by the EPA's Code of Practice and the Groundwater Protection Scheme. These standards set out minimum distances between the septic tank/effluent treatment system, etc and the proposed house, well, boundary, road, adjacent dwelling, etc and will form a basis for the site area which will be required. These minimum separation standards may need to be amended by the applicant after consideration of other factors such as site specific testing on the site, protection of groundwaters, location of proposed or existing borewells and assessment of the recommended design of the site effluent treatment system determined suitable for the site & by extension will have a bearing on the site area required.
Q4. What are the minimum distances from a treatment system or septic tank to my well, neighbouring well, site boundary, roads, etc?
Table 6.1 of the EPA's Code of Practice, sets out the required minimum separation distances. The minimum distance to a well varies from 15 to 60 m depending on site conditions and whether the well is up or down-gradient
Q5. Does the local authority undertake the percolation and trial hole testing?
A. No.Kilkenny County Council does not undertake the testing. It is the applicant's responsibility to engage a person to do the testing and to ensure that the person is both suitably qualified and indemnified for that purpose. All Site Characterisation tests (percolation tests, trial hole test, etc...) must be carried out by a suitably qualified and competent Site Assessor. A list of qualified site assessors working in Kilkenny is available on the Planning Section home page. All test results are submitted as pat of the application on what is called a Site Characterisation Form.
Q6. Does the local authority inspect the trial and percolation test holes?
A. Yes. Amongst other matters when a planner from the local authority visits the site they visually examine the trial and test holes and confirm that the test results submitted are representative the conditions as observed at the site. A poorly completed site characterisation form makes the site assessment more difficult for the local authority and makes it far more likely that the application process is prolonged unnecessarily. The applicant is encouraged to examine the data prior to submission and query the purpose and implications of the different test results and conclusions with the site assessor.
Q7. What are the different types of holes that can be observed at the site?
There are essentially three types: a trial hole, a percolation T test hole and a percolation P test hole.
The trial hole is larger of the three. The exact dimensions will vary but it should be excavated to a depth of at least 1.2 m below the invert of the lowest percolation trench. The trial hole is used to determine the water table level, depth to bedrock and to facilitate examination of the soil / subsoil.
The percolation T test is carried out at the depth of the invert of the percolation pipe and the holes are 300mm x 300mm x 400mm deep. The percolation P test holes are similar except the test is undertaken at the ground surface. There are a minimum of 3 holes per percolation tests and these tests are used to determine the percolation characteristics of the soil and subsoil.
Q8. Where should the trial and percolation test holes be located on site?
A. The trial and percolation test holes should be located in close proximity to the location of the proposed percolation area/polishing filter such that the chosen location can reasonably be considered to be representative of the soil/subsoil conditions at the location of the proposed percolation area/polishing filter. For clarity it would be useful if the location of the trial/test holes are clearly indicated on the site layout drawing submitted to accompany any planning application, to facilitate their location when the County Council Area Planner visits the site.
Q9. How long should the percolation tests take on site?
A. It is a minimum two day test.
The precise procedures for the T & P percolation tests are outlined in the EPA's Code of Practice. On day one pre soaking is conducted which simply involves filling the percolation test holes with water. On day two the test proper is conducted and could extend into additional days depending on the results applicable to the site. If for example a T percolation value of 50 applies, which is a passing result, the time taken for the test will be in excess of 13 hours, and this excludes the time taken for all pre-soaking procedures.
Q10. How long should the trial/test holes be left open?
A. The trial hole should be left open for the duration of the application process. However in certain circumstances where following the initial visit to the site the local authority is satisfied with the trial/test hole data submitted with the application the local authority may consent to the filling in of the trial/test holes. In all other circumstances they should remain open for inspection and be suitably fenced off and/or covered. If the test holes are to be covered it should be done in such a manner that the cover can be removed to facilitate subsequent inspection. Safety and security of test holes is the responsibility of applicant/landowner.
Q11. How long is the information in the Site Characterisation Form (trial/percolation test results, etc) valid for submission as part of a planning application?
The planning authority considers that the an interval in excess of 3 years would make it probably that additional testing will be required to verify the data submitted and the applicant should take cognisance of this as the application process may be prolonged. Obviously the shorter the time period between the undertaking of the trial/percolation tests and the submission of the formal planning application the more representative the site conditions to that as encountered originally by the site assessor. In general the applicability and usefulness of the information contained in the Site Characterisation will deteriorate with time. However, every application is different and each is dealt on its own merits by the planning authority taking account of all factors as they pertain to the site.
Q12. Can there be a variation in the results between the Winter/Summer time?
A. The trial hole test is a test to determine the soil/subsoil profile, water ingress, seasonal variations and subsoil conditions. The percolation P/T test is to determine the soil/subsoil permeability. One point to note is that The P/T test is a test which determines the permeability of the saturated condition of the soil/subsoil. Noting for example rushes on a site means likely year round poor percolation, their absence does not discount the possibility of seasonal variations. However if site characterisation form is filled out diligently and accurately noting all observations etc, anticipated seasonal variations can be observed and noted and taken account of in the design. Noting these subtle differences takes time, patience and experience. The quality of some applications makes it apparent that sufficient time is not set aside for the site characterisation.
Q13. Could the time gap between when the testing is conducted on my site and the site is visited by the area planner be significant and make my site appear worse/better than it is?
A. This time gap should not be an issue if the Site Characterisation Form is filled out sufficiently detailed and accurately such that anything that is observed can be explained.
Q14. Is it possible that the percolation characteristics in my field could be vastly different to that of my neighbours?
A.Variations can occur for a variety of reasons and this is why the information gained as part of the Site Characterisation Form is so crucial so that the reasons for these variations can be satisfactorily explained. It should be further noted that such variations can also occur within the same field.
Q15. Are all sites suitable or can they be engineered to be suitable for an on site effluent treatment system?
A. The simple answer to this question is no.
Q16. I am considering applying for an extension. In applying for planning permission are there any issues with regard to my existing effluent treatment system which I should address?
A. Yes. If the extension will result or has the potential to accommodate additional people it will be necessary to undertake a full assessment of the complete effluent treatment system as it exists at the site. It must be demonstrated that the complete effluent treatment system has sufficient spare capacity to allow for the development having due regard to the modern standards as they now apply to on-site effluent treatment systems. It should be noted that when referring to the complete effluent treatment system this includes any soakpit/percolation area/polishing filter that may be attached to a septic tank.
Q17. I am applying for an extension but there will still be only two of us resident in the house after completion of the extension, i.e. no change in the number of residents. In this case why do I need to upgrade my effluent treatment system?
A. The size of complete effluent treatment system required is based on the maximum occupancy of the development which in turn is based on the number of bedrooms. Once again the information required is simply a reflection of the more detailed standards which must now be satisfied as part of the planning application in the interest of the protection of public health and the environment.
Q18. Will the local authority design the on site effluent treatment system based on the information that is submitted as part of my planning application?
A. No, the function of the local authority is to assess the design as provided by the applicant. It is the applicant's responsibility to submit the proposed design based on the information gained through the Site Characterisation Form and other information pertinent to the application. The Council requires that persons engaged to design the on site effluent treatment system are suitably qualified. The Council also strongly recommends that persons undertaking the design have the FETAC qualification in Site Suitability Assessments for On Site Waste Water Treatment Systems.
Q19. My agent has just completed the Site Characterisation Form. Are there any particular items I should query with my agent before submitting it as part of my application?
A. You must first review the entire form the agent proposes to submit and place yourselves in the shoes of the area planner. You should pose a simple question to yourself. Can the information contained in the site characterisation form satisfactorily explain the conditions as would have been expected at this location and those which can be observed at the site? If you are not clear, it is highly likely the area planner will be of similar view. You must get the agent to review the information to be submitted and overcome the anomalies that have been noted. The blanks or question marks must be ironed out. Fundamentally does the Site Characterisation Form make sense? If the applicant submits a flawed Site Characterisation Form without changes the area planner has two options, to either refuse or request further information.
Q20. In what circumstances will the planning authority be of the view that additional information will be required in the form of groundwater analysis?
A. Each planning application is assessed on its own merits and no two applications are the same. However in general if:
1. The proposed site is located in an area where the development exceeds or is approaching ribbon development.
2. The number of developments in an area suggests an increased risk to groundwater quality.
3. There is recent evidence of poor underlying groundwater quality in the area.
4. There were previous concerns on other planning applications raised as regards groundwater quality in the area.
5. Previous reasons for refusals of planning permission raised issues in relation to groundwater quality.
There is an inevitable increased likelihood that the planning authority may consider that groundwater analysis is required.
It is very important to note that increasing responsibilities and statutory legal requirements are demanded and placed on the local authority as regards the assessment of developments where discharges to groundwaters are proposed.
Q21. Can how and where I take the sample have an impact on the results which I may obtain for the groundwater analysis?
A. The location where the well sample is to be taken should be determined by a suitably qualified person such that it can reasonably be considered as representative of the groundwater quality in the area. In taking a sample from an existing well it is appropriate to note the condition of well, well head protection, its age and construction details if available and any other matters which may influence any test results which may be obtained.
Q22. What are the local authority criteria when assessing hydrogeological reports?
A. The Local Authority when reviewing hydrogeological reports has regard to previous analyses in the wider area, the Max Admissible Concentration (MAC) & Guide levels of national/EU legislation and impending future changes in such limits by EPA/GSI/SERBD as part of Water Framework Directive.