Monday 14 May 2007

Councils levied charge twice for development of same premises

A SHAKE-UP of the controversial council development levies scheme has been ordered by the Government after a damning report revealed massive variations between authorities.

Some local authorities had charged two levies for the same development, the report found.

Councils have already pocketed €1.45bn since the controversial scheme was introduced seven years ago.

And they stand to earn another €2.1bn between now and 2013.

A developer is obliged to fork out the special levy to a local authority after planning permission is approved for the construction of either residential or commercial property.

The amount is determined by the size of the development.

The council use the cash to pay for infrastructure such as sewage, roads and public lighting in the vicinity of a development.

A Department of Environment committee - Inter-Departmental Committee on Development Levies - set up to probe local authorities over the levies branded the practice of councils charging two fees for the same development as "wholly inappropriate".

In one case, the IDA paid the levy on a premises and a private enterprise that later moved in and made changes to the site which needed planning permission was also hit with the fee.

The review also raised concerns about huge variations in charges between neighbouring counties and called for greater transparency.

But a request by the Department of Education for a waiver on the levy for the construction of new schools was turned down.

Local authorities earned €110m in 2000 when the scheme was first introduced. This sum soared to €517m a year by 2005.

Treacy Hogan
Irish Independent

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