Find out the background to the Vacant Site Levy, and what IFA is doing to ensure farmers are not unfairly subject to a levy.
What is the Vacant Site Levy?
The Vacant Site Levy was introduced in the Urban Regeneration & Housing Act 2015. The intention of this Act was to activate the use of idle and vacant land for housing or regeneration.
Each local authority is obliged to make a register of vacant sites that will be subject to a levy.
Farmland is not vacant – why is it being included?
There is no definition of vacant land in the Act, but the Act is being implemented by local authorities on the direction of a circular issued by the Department of Housing. This circular states that farmland in areas where the land is zoned for a particular purpose but is in agricultural use, the levy may be applied. As a result, some local authorities have included farmland on their vacant site register.
Can inclusion on the register be appealed?
Yes, when you are first made aware that your land is to be included, you can object to the local authority.
If this is not successful, you can appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
What is the IFA doing to ensure farmland is not included or is removed from the register?
IFA has met with Minister for Local Government John Paul Phelan to make the case that imposing a levy on farmland is not fair and not in line with the intention of the Act.
We have asked that he reissue a circular to clarify that farmland should not be included.
The Minister has indicated that he intends to have such a circular issued.
IFA is pressing the Minister to issue the circular urgently to clarify the situation for farmers affected.