IFA Roads Project Team Chairman Jer Bergin has described the decision by the Department of Transport and the National Roads Authority to stop paying a goodwill payment, where councils seek early access onto farmers’ lands and cause considerable disruption, as a short-sighted and costly mistake.
He said, “This goodwill payment is an integral part of the IFA negotiated national roads agreement and this agreement has served farmers and the State well. The agreement provides a better balance between the might of the State and the individual landowner, when it comes to compulsory land take for road construction. It also recognises the huge impact that the road development programme has on farmers’ lives and has facilitated the timely delivery of roads projects and compensation negotiations, with many projects being completed ahead of schedule and under budget.”
Jer Bergin said, “The removal of the goodwill payment will force landowners to reconsider how they deal with local authorities and the National Roads Authority and this may lead to a delay in the pre-construction phase of road realignments and new road project. Farmers have up until now allowed full access to the lands for site investigation works, preliminary feasibility studies and route surveys and have co-operated fully with all requests for information. This short-sighted step must be reconsidered as it will add further costs to compulsory land acquisition. Landowners are now faced with a choice of allowing early access and claiming additional compensation for the on-going disturbance or withdrawing co-operation and forcing the NRA to take possession of the lands and pay interest on the compensation received from that date.”
IFA will be advising landowners and their representatives to ensure that this extra disturbance cause to farmers is fully compensated for during negotiation. The Association has also called for the implementation of the Commission on Taxation proposal that any farmer who has their land taken for road construction should be exempt from capital gains tax. IFA’s Finance Bill submission is seeking that any farmer who re-invests their compensation into the consolidation of their farm should be entitled to avail of consolidation relief.