Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farmers milking it

There is a brief report in the Irish Times today outlining the payments made to various landowners in respect of the Gort bypass on the N18. The payout for land was €37.7M for a road scheme approximately 23km in length. With the overall cost of the road being €207.5M, this means that the land cost came in at approximately 18% which initially doesn't look like an outrageous cut of the costs.

In standard EU motorway construction each lane is 3.65m in width. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the mainline of the route is about 50m in width (2 lanes + hard shoulder in each direction comes to 22m, then allow for central median and edging). This makes the total area of land covered by the purchase just over 1.1M m2 or around 280 acres of agricultural land. When the amount paid for the land is divided evenly by this area, it puts the price at around €135k per acre.

This is a complete rip off as the average price for agricultural land in Ireland is somewhere between €10k and €15k per acre. Why do the NRA continue to pay massive premiums on land required for vital infrastructure? It can't be argued that split land becomes unusable since as part of the scheme, multiple access roads, bridges, underpasses and culverts will be provided to allow the continued agricultural use of the land as part of the remaining €170M. It's plain and simple, the farmers are yet again taking the tax payer for a ride and we're just letting them away with it.

If only there was some sort of report, say by someone called Kenny, which could be implemented to limit the massive windfalls on land prices. The state should not continue to line the pockets of a small few who happen to live in the right place at the right time.

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