A decision by Hambleton District Council to withdraw costly levy proposals that could have made it virtually impossible for local farmers to improve their farm infrastructure has been welcomed by the NFU.
The decision follows concerted lobbying by the NFU’s North East team which has contacted several local authorities after it emerged that farm development was likely to be affected by plans to introduce the government’s new ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’.
The new levy is designed to raise funds for local authorities where sizeable residential or commercial development results in them having to invest for example in the local road infrastructure. Most local authorities have chosen to exclude agricultural development from the levy, but some including Hambleton, Harrogate Borough and Leeds City Council had proposed to charge for on-farm developments such as barns.
“As a result, farmers in the Hambleton area would have faced a charge of £10 per square metre –adding £5,000 to the cost of a 500 square metre barn,” said the NFU’s North Riding and Durham County Adviser Laurie Norris. “Frankly this would have made most farm-scale development uneconomic.
“Looking at the rationale and requirements of the new levy it is clear that agriculture would have been an unintended victim as in general, agricultural developments place very little extra burden on the surrounding infrastructure.