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Margaret Donnelly: Don't blame farmers for a housing crisis that's been decades in the making

Margaret Donnelly


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Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) cannot become a mechanism to acquire valuable land for housing at low prices from income-stretched farmers

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) cannot become a mechanism to acquire valuable land for housing at low prices from income-stretched farmers

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) cannot become a mechanism to acquire valuable land for housing at low prices from income-stretched farmers

There's no easy or quick solution to the housing crisis in Ireland - and you might wonder what the issue is doing on the farming pages.

But, in case you missed it, the Kenny Report of 1973 was dusted off over the weekend and its resurrection will raise the hackles of many farmers around the country.

In a nutshell, the report recommended the introduction of a cap on the cost of development land.

It said land should be compulsorily acquired by local authorities at no more than 25pc over its agricultural value.

Stymie

Compensation at 25pc above the market value would stymie the disproportionate price rise in building land and end speculative land hoarding, the report contended.

It has been argued that such a move would require a referendum given that such a scheme could be viewed as an infringement of property rights.

But analysis in recent days suggests that such a ballot may not be needed.

This question will ultimately be teased out in the courts - with the women and men in the wigs again making a premium for their time.

However, farmers won't require the services of extravagantly paid barristers to tell them that they are being 'done' should this policy be implemented.

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) cannot become a mechanism to acquire valuable land for housing at low prices from income-stretched farmers.

At this point, it is only fair to ask if:

* Valuable sites in cities held by developers will be subject to the same CPO mechanism?

* Will all houses built on land purchased by CPO will be held in public ownership?

* Will the prices of houses built on lands purchased by CPO be capped at affordable levels?

* Would the Government bring in plans to close tax loopholes which allow foreign investors and funds to reap huge profits off Irish property speculation?

* Does the Government plan to CPO the 190,000 vacant houses in the state?

There is no doubt we need more houses in this country, and fast.

But discrimination against farmers who happen to have land in close proximity to towns is just that - discrimination.

The compulsory purchase of farmland at prices that do no reflect the potential value would be fought tooth and nail by the farm organisations and farmers.

Land owners cannot be expected to carry an unfair share of the cost of sorting out the housing crisis.

Farming is already under enough pressure.

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