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Farm leaders warn of legal challenges if new government caps price of development land


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Pat McCormack

Pat McCormack

Pat McCormack

Any attempted "land grab" by the next government will be met with legal challenges, farming organisations have warned.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have reportedly discussed holding a referendum to cap land prices as part of a new programme for government if they agree to form a coalition.

Capping development land prices could mean altering constitutional property rights and slash the 'hope value' of farmland near towns.

The two main farming organisations, IFA and ICMSA, have said the government can expect legal challenges if such a move is attempted.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said his organisation could "practically guarantee" legal challenges to any move to allow local authorities or government agencies to CPO farmland for housebuilding but only pay the landowner the land's agricultural value plus a 25pc top-up.

He said the idea of compulsory purchase of farmland that involved underpayment for the land was more akin to confiscation than public policy.

"You cannot have a situation where a local authority or government agency CPOs farmland at a price less than its market value," he said.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said his organisation would look at taking a legal challenge "if the government does not have a referendum and tries to take property from citizens, paying less than the market value".

Opposed

"IFA is completely opposed to any such land grab by the State whether that be through legislation or referenda to change constitutional property rights," he stressed.

Cullinan said there is almost 2,000 hectares of land under State ownership, which can be mobilised today to address the housing challenge.

"IFA will not allow the housing problem to be used as a Trojan horse to diminish the property rights of farmers and property owners across the country," he said.

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