Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president, Gabriel Gilmartin, says he is “appalled” at the revelation that a number of local authorities are charging tens of thousands of euro in development contributions for new shed units.
The report (contained in Irish Independent Farming, 14th August) shows that some county councils are charging farmers up to €40,000 for the building of a 1,000 square metre livestock shed.
Mr. Gilmartin said, “How are farmers supposed to invest and expand when we are being faced with these colossal levies? On the one hand, we are supposed to be looking towards significant expansion with the targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report – but on the other, farmers in many counties will be shocked to discover that they will face huge charges for upgrading their buildings to support additional production.”
“It seems to me that the councils are putting farmers in the same category as property developers with these charges, which makes no sense. As a revenue-generating exercise, I see this backfiring badly, because it is difficult enough to secure credit for farm upgrade work, without having to fund these outrageous local authority charges also. It will definitely scupper many farmers who were thinking of expanding their operations with new buildings – and who would have, by and large, employed local construction workers and bought their materials locally.”
“This also places a huge obstacle in front of young farmers who are starting their business from scratch on a green field site. In the counties where these huge development charges exist, it is definitely hampering farm businesses in a serious way.”
Mr. Gilmartin concluded, “This situation intensifies the need for local authorities to look at becoming more efficient themselves, rather than crucifying others to generate revenue. How can we justify having 34 separate local authorities at a time when efficiency is crucial to survival? It’s been two years since a Local Government Efficiency Review group recommended cutting the number of councils down to 20. It’s high time we saw action on those recommendations.”