Council defers decision on community benefits contribution policy

The members of the Mayo County Council deferred a decision on adopting the draft policy on Community Benefit Contributions required for certain major developments at their December meeting on Monday. The policy will set down the requirements for a developer in relation to making a contribution to local areas affected by future major developments.

The draft policy outlined a number of payments that would be made by developers annually such as €2,500 per mega watt of power produced by energy projects such as thermal power stations, hydroelectric, wind, steam, or hot water power generation. While for high voltage electric lines the fee was proposed at €500 per km for 110kv lines, €1,000 per km for 220kv lines, and €3,000 per km for 400kv lines. For waste disposal for incineration of hazardous and non hazardous waste the proposed fee was €1 per tone and €3 per tonne for sludge hubs. While telecommunications mast had a proposed levy of €2,500 per mast per year.

Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray said that he feared that this list would be used by developers to divide and conquer communities by developers in controversial projects. He also commented that even if Mayo County Council adopted the policy it could be overruled by national plans, and what really needed to be done was that Mayo County Council be allowed to be the proper planning authority for the county on all projects and not let major infrastructure projects be decided in Dublin by An Board Pleanála.

Fine Gael councillor Seamus Weir said that he could not support any policy that could in any way encourage the development of 400kv lines overground. Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne proposed that policy increase the cost per mega watt of power to €10,000 per annum, to which some councillors argued it could be too much and might put off developers from investing in Mayo. The discussion ended with a decision on the policy being deferred until the new year.


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