Farmers to receive €9m in ‘goodwill payments’

Michael Ring signs off on back payments for land that was sold for roads projects

Minister of State Michael Ring has signed off on €9 million in back payments in relation to agricultural land sold for road projects. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Minister of State Michael Ring has signed off on €9 million in back payments in relation to agricultural land sold for road projects. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Fine Gael Minister of State Michael Ring has signed off on €9 million in back payments in relation to agricultural land sold for road projects.

The so-called “goodwill payments” are to be paid to farmers and other landowners for not obstructing the compulsory purchase of land to facilitate national roads projects.

They entail a payment of €3,000 per acre, in addition to the overall market value of the transaction.

The payments had been €5,000 an acre, introduced to coincide with major road investment from 2001, but were terminated by the former minister for transport, Leo Varadkar, in 2012.

Policy

Figures from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the body which oversees the road network, show Tuesday’s agreement will result in about €9 million in back payments.

At €3,000 per acre, this figure suggests about 3,000 acres of land were purchased during the period.

Road construction dropped significantly during the recession.

In 2012 the IFA described the decision to cease goodwill payments as a “short-sighted and costly mistake”.

The arrangement is designed to expedite road construction.

“It also recognises the huge impact that the road development programme has on farmers’ lives and has facilitated the timely delivery of roads projects and compensation negotiations, with many projects being completed ahead of schedule and under budget,” the IFA’s then roads project team chairman Jer Bergin said in 2012.

“The removal of the goodwill payment will force landowners to reconsider how they deal with local authorities and the [recently rebranded] National Roads Authority and this may lead to a delay in the pre-construction phase of road realignments and new road projects.”

Mr Bergin, who is now IFA national chairman, said this week the resumption of the deal, albeit at a reduced rate, was an “important” step.

“IFA has also secured a commitment the fixed payment will be made retrospective and all eligible farmers who missed out on this payment will now benefit,” he said.

Mr Ring could not be reached yesterday for comment on the deal.

The deal is understood to be the culmination of a year’s negotiations with the IFA.

The €9 million relates to projects undertaken in the last four years.

They include the Slane bypass in Co Meath; the Galway city bypass; the Listowel bypass in Co Kerry; and roads in Co Mayo, Co Kildare, Co Cork, Co Limerick and Co Dublin.

There were also 62 minor projects, such as road straightening, often involving less than an acre of land, scattered throughout the country.