Thursday 29 September 2016

Nama won't sell mountain land to State for less than its €2.5m value

Kevin Doyle and Patrick Kelleher

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Nama will not sell the parcel of almost 5,000 acres of land it owns in the Dublin Mountains to the State for a cent less than its market value. File photo
Nama will not sell the parcel of almost 5,000 acres of land it owns in the Dublin Mountains to the State for a cent less than its market value. File photo

Nama will not sell the parcel of almost 5,000 acres of land it owns in the Dublin Mountains to the State for a cent less than its market value.

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Pressure is mounting on the Government to buy the land, which has a price tag of around €2.5m. However, the cost is expected to become a major bone of contention, as the Irish Independent understands a number of private investors have already expressed an interest.

The parcel of land, which takes in Kippure down to Glenasmole Valley and Bohernabreena Reservoir, is the largest to have come on the market in recent years.

More than 90pc of the land is in a special conservation area, meaning it cannot be used for development. Among a variety of concerns being raised by locals in the area is that a private buyer could erect wind farms.

They want the Department of Heritage to buy the land and potentially turn some sections into a tourist trail.

Minister of State Michael Ring has indicated that he has concerns about Nama's valuation of the land and noted that the €2.5m asking price is the equivalent of the entire 2016 budget for the National Parks and Wildlife.

Read more: Nama lining up €4bn sale of property loans

But correspondence seen by the Irish Independent shows that Nama has no intention of selling the land at a discount - and the agency says the State will have to move "quickly" to prevent it being sold to another party.

In an email to Dublin South West TD John Lahart, Nama said it had indicated to the Department that it is willing to give them first refusal on the land. The head of public affairs Martin Whelan wrote: "You will note however that Nama cannot gift or sell land or property at less than market value to any entity, public or otherwise.

"There is significant private sector interest in acquiring these lands and the Department has been made aware of this interest and the need to indicate its position quickly lest the administrator will sell to the other party."

Mr Lahart said it would be "scandalous" if the land was not bought by the State. "It is part of the most picturesque part of Dublin," he said.

"The area has huge tourist potential and the capacity to attract significant tourist numbers if the product is developed sensitively." He wants the land turned into a national park, which he says has "the potential to create thousands of jobs in the wider locality and region".

Catastrophic

Mr Lahart added: "The sale of this land to a private owner would represent a catastrophic missed opportunity for the State." Farmers in the area say the land shouldn't be sold because they have grazing and turbary - turf-cutting - rights over it.

Donie Anderson said: "Nama are talking about the market value of the land, but market value couldn't be the same [when] grazing rights, turbary rights and shooting rights are there. The people that buy the land are only buying the right to own it as far as I know."

John Murphy, whose family has lived in the area since his great-grandparents' generation, said: "It shouldn't be sold at all at any cost. It's belonging to the people for generations.

"It's the people that should own it instead of letting Nama take it over."

Irish Independent

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