Council postpones levy scheme

Kildare County Council has postponed the adoption of its controversial new development levy scheme to September.

Kildare County Council has postponed the adoption of its controversial new development levy scheme to September.

At a special meeting on 14 February, councillors said a number of things needed to be changed in the recent draft scheme, which among other things, proposes a reduction in levies for telecommunications masts.

The levies are applied to new construction and other developments and the amounts sought by the Council to fund infrastructure have been controversial.

But councillors are concerned that with the economic downturn, what effect, levies will have on business and jobs growth in the county.

Between 2004 and October 2010, the Council took in E112.8 millions in levies, money which has funded many capital projects in the county.

But while the largest sum, E33.8m, came in 2006, last year’s income from levies was much lower, E10m.

The Council, based on difficult to forecast estimates, believes that E17m will come in over the 2010-2013 scheme, including E5m this year and E6m over the following two years.

A group of companies and individuals in the agricultural and horticultural area are among those who have lobbied councillors not to create new levies in their business.

The County Manager and officials have proposed new levies to developments which were exempt before this.

Kieran Dunne, representing a Kildare growers group, said they thought councillors would support the growers and leave their sector exempt.

Another element to the scheme is that up to now anyone who wanted to develop a quarry has not had to pay levies because no provision was made for this in the 2004 scheme, a matter which has been highlighted by An Bord Pleanala, many of whose appeals from Kildare are related to the interpretation of the current scheme by the county council.

Some want quarries to pay because lorries using the quarries were doing damage to the county’s roads.

One of the submissions from Hutchinson 3G Ireland Ltd, sought exemption for masts.

In his report, County Manager, Michael Malone, did not agree to this but said that a reduction of 50% in the telecommunications levies was being proposed to councillors.

At the outset of the meeting, chairman and Mayor, Brendan Weld, suggested the meeting be adjourned for a short period to allow the group leaders on the council discuss some technical matters in private.

But that did not happen and following some discussions it was agreed to formally approve (maintain) the 2004 scheme until later in the year. It was agreed to introduce the new scheme on 14 September coming although some had initially suggested a three months’ postponement.