9 May 2002 Edition

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Secret tax on new homes

Sinn Féin Louth County Councillor and general election candidate, Arthur Morgan, has described a massive increase in Planning Levies on new homes in County Louth as "a secret tax" which is a major obstacle preventing young people getting on the housing ladder.

"Planning levies for new homes in County Louth have almost tripled in the last two months," he said. "Road Improvement levies went from €762 in February to €1,900 in March. Community Development levies now stand at €1,270. This means that a young couple planning to build a new home have to pay over €3,000 to Louth County Council before they turn a sod, and this at a time when the First Time Buyers Grant has not increased in years.

"This secret tax does not apply in many other Local Authorities. Road Improvements are funded from central government, yet in Louth we have a massive double taxation. Indeed, a further burden will be added when roads through Louth are tolled. It has also come to my attention that letters have been sent by Louth County Council to young homeowners threatening to revoke their planning permission if the levies are not paid."

Morgan said he had written to Environment miinister Noel Dempsey asking him to intervene to rein in the Louth County Manager, who has imposed these charges without consulting elected representatives. "I have asked the Minister to use his powers under the 2001 Planning Act to shift the power to decide the level of levies, if any, from the county manager to the elected members," said Morgan.

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