Q I have read with some concern about the possibility of compulsory purchase orders being used to acquire land for use in greenways. Although my farm land does not lie in the path of any current proposed greenway I fear CPOs will be a big issue for farmers over the next few years and I don't want to sell any of my farm.
A Compulsory purchase orders or CPOs as they are often referred to are always controversial as they try to balance the public good with the private right to own property.
What are CPOs
Some statutory bodies can take land (without the agreement of landowners) by means of a compulsory purchase order (CPO). These type of orders are usually used when there is a development of public infrastructure, for example, a road or for and urban renewal project.
The legal process involved in compulsory purchases is very complex and has evolved through a large amount of case law.
If your land is going to be subject to a CPO you will receive/be served with a notice to treat. There is also a requirement for notices to places in newspapers. Without delay you should seek the property advice of a chartered valuation surveyor experienced in the area of compulsory purchase.
Following service of notice to treat, the local authority can serve a notice of entry, which after 14 days, allows the local authority to enter and take possession of the land described in the CPO even though compensation may not have been agreed at that stage.
Compensation payable for land acquired as part of the CPO is usually negotiated between valuers for the owners (claimants) and valuers for the local authority. In addition to the property acquired, compensation is payable, where appropriate, in respect of severance, injurious affection and disturbance.
Severance is where the loss of part of a property/ landholding reduces the value of the part retained. For example, the acquisition of a strip of land through a farm for a new by-pass road may make the farm less attractive as a unit and affect the viability of the farm business due to increased working costs and inconvenience.
Injurious affection is the damage to the retained land caused by the construction of the road and subsequent use. For example, the construction of an embankment may obstruct the view from a house on the retained land.
Disturbance concerns any other allowable loss sustained or expenses incurred by an owner as a result of the compulsory acquisition of land. Examples would include costs of seeking and acquiring alternative property.
Where it is not possible for the claimant and the local authority to reach agreement on the compensation payable, the law provides for an independent arbitration process whereby an arbitrator, after hearing evidence from the respective parties, determines the amount payable. The arbitrator may also adjudicate on the liability for costs of the parties concerned. The decision of the arbitrator is binding on both parties
Land Value The landowner is entitled to the market value of his land at the date of the Notice to Treat.
The market value can be based either on the existing use value of the land or its development value, whichever is the greater.
Development value can be claimed only where development potential can be proven to exist.
It is also important that you have advice on the compensation package for the loss of your property.
Irish Judges have on a number of occasions commented on how complex the CPO process is.
It is important that you have comprehensive legal advice on the options open to you both in relation to any objections which you may wish to make and also in relation to the procedures to be followed in progressing those objections to the fullest degree permitted.
Even if you do not wish to object to the proposed CPO, it is important that you have a full understanding of the process and the implications for you of the exercise of the powers of purchase by the relevant body or authority.
This article is intended as a general guide only and you should seek professional advice in relation to individual circumstances.
Theresa Murphy is a barrister based in Ardrahan, Co Galway
Local authorities are on collision course with farmers in several parts of the country over proposed Greenway developments.
The IFA has called for a code or practice to be introduced as a guide for negotiations between planners and farmers.
In a recent submission to the Department of Transport, the IFA’s environment committee chairman Thomas Cooney described the level of engagement by local authorities and landowners on greenway developments as “haphazard and in some cases non-existent.
“This has culminated in some local authorities such as Kerry and Clare taking an adversarial approach and threatening the use of CPOs for the development of such recreational routes.”
While acknowledging that greenways and blueways are important for promoting rural tourism, Mr Cooney said such routes should initially be confined to state-owned lands.
Personal pensions appear to have lost some of their appeal, certainly among farmers, in the past ten years. This can be put down to a number of reasons not least a severe drop on fund values in 2008 because of the economic meltdown.
FARMERS often feel that they have good reason to complain about various aspects of their financial dealings. Their grievances generally lie with banks or financial institutions but could also extend to pension, investment and insurance providers.