Farmers in Co. Kerry will be subject to levies on new farm buildings under draft proposals from Kerry County Council designed to support the reuse of existing premises.

The council has prepared a draft development contributions scheme that would see a flat rate levy of €4.10/m² applied to agricultural developments; this excludes silos, yards, silage bases and slurry pits.

According to the draft document, development contributions for intensive agricultural use – such as pig or poultry farms – would be subject to the standard rate for industrial development – €12/m².

Speaking to AgriLand today, July 19, Fianna Fail Councillor for Killarney Municipal District, John Joe Culloty, explained the funds raised by the scheme would be used for roads and to boost development in rural villages across the county.

However, he added: “When I hear about this money going towards roads, I have a problem in the sense that our roads budget has been hugely cut over the last ten years. And what seems to be happening now is we’re being asked to make up the balance that the government are neglecting to pay.

“From my point of view, in this part of the county, I would be against it because 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.”

The flat agricultural charge would also apply to horticultural polytunnels, glasshouses and mushroom tunnels, as well as stables above 200m² and kennels above 100 m² – levies on extensions that pushed these buildings to reach these limits would apply too.

Garden centres and nurseries would be subject to the charge for commercial developments in respect of the retail-based covered floor area, at €18.00/m². There is a charge of €9/0.1ha for outdoor retail areas.

Farmers considering extensions that add more than 40m² (cumulatively) to their homes would face a rate of €12/m² – this excludes extensions to facilitate the needs of people with disabilities.

The draft document 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.

Explaining the reasons for the scheme, the document said: “A development contribution scheme can facilitate job creation through targeted support for specific development types.

“The inclusion of such supports in this scheme reflects the economic policies that are contained in the Kerry County Development Plan 2015-2021 and the County Kerry Local Economic and Community Plan 2016-2021.

This scheme is also supportive of development that will revitalise our towns and villages by not levying development that reuses existing buildings.

A meeting to discuss the future of the proposals will be held next Tuesday, July 25.

Meanwhile, three parcels of farmland in Co. Westmeath – amounting to 339ac – were sold for €1.68 million at an auction managed by Murtagh Bros last Friday, July 14, with about 70 people turning out to place their bids.