IFA President Joe Healy has said Minister John Paul Phelan must issue a revised circular on the vacant site levy immediately to clarify that local authorities should not deem farmland ‘vacant’ under the Vacant Site Levy legislation.
Joe Healy said it is abundantly clear that land being used for agricultural purposes is neither ‘vacant’ nor ‘idle’ and to impose a levy on it would be completely unacceptable and not in line with the intention of the legislation to bring in such a levy.
No definition of ‘vacant’ or ‘idle’ exist in the relevant Act but some local authorities are acting on a circular issued by the Department of Environment and local Government which decrees that agricultural land zoned for another purpose may be considered ‘vacant or idle’.
IFA has met with Minister Phelan to make these points and object to the content of the implementing circular, which is not reflective of the Act.
“A number of farmers have had land included on their local authority’s vacant site register on the back of the circular. These farmers are very concerned about the high levy they will be liable for and are currently incurring costs to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala. The Minister needs to back up his public comment and issue a new circular, clarifying the matter so that these appeals can be withdrawn and farmers can get on with their business,” Joe Healy concluded.