Farm Ireland

Sunday 20 January 2019

IFA demands halt to vacant site levies on farmland

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Attempts by local authorities to hit farmland with the 'vacant' site levy are completely unacceptable, it has been warned.

IFA president Joe Healy said it was not in line with the intention of the legislation and it was clear that land being used for agricultural purposes is neither 'vacant nor idle'.

He said local authorities were responding to a circular issued by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government which unilaterally decrees that agricultural land zoned for another purpose is 'vacant or idle'.

It has seen some farmers with land on the edges of towns that have been re-zoned without them requesting it facing the levies.

Mr Healy said this should be withdrawn and a new circular issued which makes it clear that farmland is not included in the definition of 'vacant or idle'.

The IFA met Minister of State John Paul Phelan last October on the issue.

"IFA cannot and will not accept a situation where farmers whose land has been zoned are effectively forced to sell or develop it to avoid this punitive tax," he said.

The primary purpose of the levy is to act as an incentive for the bringing forward of vacant under-used sites for development, for residential or regeneration purposes. 

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As announced in Budget 2018, it is proposed to increase the rate of levy from 3% to 7% of the market valuation of relevant sites with effect from January 2020 in respect of sites included on the local vacant site registers in 2019.

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe said recently that the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government proposes to encourage local authorities to apply the levy on as wide a basis as possible in order to bring housing supply on stream earlier than would otherwise be the case.

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