Resistance in Kerry to new levies on farm sheds and polytunnels

National scheme to impose levies on range of buildings from glamping to windfarms

Kerry  County Council is proposing to subject polytunnels to a levy of €4.10 a square metre

Kerry County Council is proposing to subject polytunnels to a levy of €4.10 a square metre

 

A proposal to put levies on new sheds and polytunnels to pay for local roads is meeting stiff resistance in Co Kerry where a new six-year development contribution scheme is being finalised.

Four different development contributions schemes operate in the county, predating the new 2014 local authority structure. The levies pay for road repairs and amenities.

In the 2009-2015 period more than €18.5 million in levies was collected.

However, a new national scheme which aims to put a charge on the construction of farm sheds for the first time, and also to place substantial charges on new windfarms is meeting with resistance.

New houses in “the hub area” of Killarney and Tralee are to attract higher levies than in their town centres in the new six-year plan. Anyone building an average house in this linked hub area will pay €1,500 plus an extra €12 a square metre on top of the standard €20 a square metre elsewhere in the county.

The council is proposing to subject new sheds to a levy of €4.10 a square metre – polytunnels and glasshouses and mushroom tunnels will be subject to the new levy which the council said will go into rural roads serving the sheds.

“These agricultural structures will be subject to the contributions as they are a form of commercial development,” according to the council.

However, individual landowners as well the main farmers’ organisations are objecting. Farmers’ traffic does very little damage to roads, one farmer said.

The Irish Farmers’ Association said the levies will affect employment in the food industry.

Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae said he will oppose it adding that rural roads are in a terrible state and will not get the benefit.

“Most farmers are barely getting by and like myself are keeping it going for the love of it,” he said. On the one hand, he said, the farmers will be getting grants from the Department of Agriculture for structures, and the council will be taking it with the other. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

The levy on quarries is to rise from 18 cent a tonne to 29 cent a tonne, a steep rise in a county that is short of small quarries. The Irish Concrete Federation is opposed and says if the levies are implemented there will be further stone shortages in Kerry.

A range of levies are being proposed for energy, with solar development to be levied at €5,000 a Mw; wind at €10,000 a Mw and non-renewable sources at €20,000 a Mw.

The solar industry wants its levy reduced to €3,000 a Mw; while the wind energy lobby says the charge does not give appropriate recognition of the substantial contribution to the local and national economy made by wind generation.

Glamping and camping is to attract a levy of €1,000 per 0.1 hectare; and the levy for a new caravan site could be €250 a pitch.

A private meeting between councillors and management is taking place on Monday – after they refused to sign off on the scheme at the July monthly meeting – and it is expected that this will be followed by a series of public meetings within the six-week time limit to adopt the scheme.