Councils owed €750 million in development levies

Offical figures show Fingal County Council alone is owed almost €132 million

Development levies are imposed by local authorities as a condition of planning permission for the cost of providing special services, such as a new roads or relocation of pipes.

Development levies are imposed by local authorities as a condition of planning permission for the cost of providing special services, such as a new roads or relocation of pipes.

Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 17:29

EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY

Property developers owe city and county councils more than €750 million in unpaid levies associated with planning permissions, according to figures from the Department of the Environment.

More than half of the outstanding money owed to councils, equating to €439 million, is due for payment this year, with the remaining €312 million relating to previous years.

The figures were supplied by the department in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD for Wicklow Simon Harris.

Development levies are imposed by local authorities as a condition of planning permission for the cost of providing special services, such as a new roads or relocation of pipes.

They are generally required to be paid before construction work begins, or at least on a phased basis.

Revenue from these levies peaked in 2007 at more than €900 million but fell to just under €200 million two years later in 2009 when Ireland’s property bubble burst.

Fingal County Council is owed the largest amount, more than €131.8 million, while Dublin City Council is owed more than €106.5 million.

Among the other local authorities owed significant amounts are Dún-Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (€91 million), Cork County Council (€52 million), Limerick County County (€39 million), Kildare County Council (€34 million) and South Dublin County Council (€32 million).

Mr Harris said: “The extremely large amount of money owed to local authorities by developers will come as a shock to taxpayers across this country.

“Development levies are meant to be paid upfront before any development commences. If councils came to arrangements with developers to pay levies on a phased basis then they clearly had a duty to ensure that these levies were paid.

“We now need answers from our local authorities about why such a large sum of money is outstanding, how much of this money they realistically expect to be in a position to recoup, and what processes are in place to ensure that developers pay the bills owed to the Irish taxpayer.

Mr Harris claimed the figures reflected the lack of structures and controls in place in local authorities under the former Fianna Fáil-led government.

He noted that more than €300 million of outstanding levies had now been classified as long-term, which he said, indicated that these levies were due to be paid some time ago and were never recouped by the council.

“To be quite frank, these figures raise questions and suspicions on the relationships that existed in Celtic Tiger Ireland. The close relationship at the time between developers and the Fianna Fáil-led Government is well known.

Last month, Wicklow County Council said it intend to pursue homeowners in a number of estates for sums of up to €4,800 after the developer of the estate failed to pay the relevant levy.

The council’s rationale was that development levies were “a charge on the property itself, not on an individual or a developer”.