A LOCAL authority has defended moves to force homeowners to foot the bill for unpaid development levies.
Wicklow County Council last night confirmed that residents in four housing estates had been asked to pay levies which should have been paid by the developer.
Some 24 residents living in one estate, Brook Meadows in Avoca, have been sent a letter demanding payment, despite the estate being finished more than a decade ago.
Last night, the council confirmed it was pursuing outstanding development levies in four estates.
Development levies are imposed by local authorities to pay for the cost of installing essential services. They are included as a condition of planning permission, and developers normally foot the bill.
But councils are owed some €800m in unpaid levies, and Wicklow has now taken the unprecedented move of asking residents to pay.
It is not clear if other local authorities will choose to follow suit.
A Sunday newspaper said some €65,280 was being sought from residents in the Brook Meadows estate, with average bills running to €2,720.
One resident, Today FM DJ Phil Cawley, said last night that he wasn't being pursued but about half his neighbours were.
When he purchased his house, his solicitor had checked to see if there was any outstanding charge on the property.
"It's something their solicitors didn't spot when they bought the house," he said.
Local councillors criticised the move, saying it was "unfair".
"I raised it at a county council meeting a couple of months ago because it was unfair," Sylvester Bourke (FG) said. "The official line I was given was that if the levies are unpaid, it sticks with the property."
In a statement, Wicklow County Council said it was "normal practice" that a solicitor checked to see if outstanding rates or charges were due on a property prior to purchase.
"Like all local authorities, Wicklow is obliged under law to collect all outstanding charges and levies," it said.
It would allow people to pay the money over time, adding the developer behind the Brook Meadow estate would be in court later this month to address outstanding levies.