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Council hit by 16-fold drop in development levies

ONE county council has recorded a near 16-fold drop in development levies because of the falloff in construction work.

Clare County Council has confirmed that €11.3m was gathered in development contributions in 2007, but this fell to just €720,000 in the first 11 months of last year.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has now called on the council to reduce its developer contributions by up to 40pc.

Next Monday, the authority's 32 councillors will vote on the council's new draft development contribution scheme 2011 to 2017.

The CIF has argued that thanks to the significant drop in house prices and the reduction in construction costs, the new rate of contributions should be cut by up to 40pc

CIF executive in housing, planning & development, Jeanette Mair said: "Should the council fail to acknowledge current market realities and adjust the development contribution rates to reflect these market realities, the council policy will not be facilitating any revival of economic activity in its area."

Ms Mair goes on: "Such policies of retaining development contribution rates at levels pertaining to 2007, '08, '09 will only discourage any revival of economic activity in the county."

She added that any potential increase in rates will drive development away.

However, acting planning director for the council, Nora Kaye, said that the council's "residential charges are very competitive and in fact are amongst the lowest in the country".

The scheme has also come under fire from BT Communications Ireland and ESB Telecoms Ltd, which have hit out at the proposal to increase planning levies for telecommunication masts by 135pc from €6,361 to €15,000 per mast.

ESB Telecoms states that the proposed increase "is unsustainable and does not take account of the economic conditions that are faced by all businesses in Ireland".

In response, the council has backed down and is now proposing that the charge be reduced to €10,000.

Irish Independent