Kerry County Council has passed a motion to allow a flat rate levy of €4.10/m² to apply to agricultural developments, with 15 votes in favour of the ‘development contributions scheme’.

The vote was tight however, with 14 councillors rejecting the motion and four abstaining from voting, independent councillor and sheep farmer, Dan McCarthy, told AgriLand.

Although the funds raised by the scheme are due to be used for road improvements and to boost development in rural villages across the county, McCarthy is concerned this objective will not be met.

He said: “My belief is that the younger generation in agricultural college – the people who we are trying to encourage into farming and to raise farm standards – will be the ones who are affected by this.

“There is currently no money being spent on by-roads and we don’t know what will be done with the money raised through this scheme. This is only the start but, as the years roll on, the scheme will be brought in.”

Speaking to AgriLand last week, Fianna Fail councillor John Joe Culloty criticised the government for cutting Kerry’s roads budget and forcing the local council to make up the balance.

“From my point of view, in this part of the country, I would be against it; I think they’re asking this of people on farms that – in a lot of cases – are working two jobs and are paying their property tax already. So, in my opinion, it’s a step too far,” he said.

Although the levy excludes silos, yards, silage bases and slurry pits, it will apply to horticultural polytunnels, glasshouses and mushroom tunnels, as well as stables above 200m² and kennels above 100m².

The draft development contributions scheme was open to public submissions and observations across Kerry between April and May, with discrepancies in the size of levies charged depending on whether the development was taking place in Tralee and Killarney, Listowel or the rest of the county.