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June 2017 - Major Tech Projects appealed to An Bord Pleanála

Intel Irelands planned expansion of its facility in Leixlip which was recently approved by Kildare County Council has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by neighbouring farmer Mr. Thomas Reid, who successfully stopped the IDA from Compulsorily acquiring his family’s lands in 2015.

This appeal comes after another major planned Tech project by internet Giant Amazon, to develop a large Data Centre was approved by Fingal County Council, however their decision has also been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

June 2017 - Government’s planned Site levy sparks concern from Builders.

The Government plans to penalise landowners who hoard vacant sites that could be used for housing. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan warned that the Government would tax speculators for sitting on empty development sites by introducing a levy on such properties in this year’s budget.

Many builders argue that principal reasons sites are not being developed is not down to speculation to boost profits but rather due to Planning difficulties, lack of infrastructure, high development costs and the lack of available funding.

June 2017 - Farmers’ incomes drop by 9% with income from Brussels accounting for 75% of total.

The latest National Farm Survey from Teagasc shows income on farms dipped by 9pc last year, with average earnings now standing at only €24,060, less than the average industrial wage.

Furthermore, the average direct payment per farm was almost €18,000 last year, accounting for 75% of farm income on average and worryingly almost 100% of the income on cattle and sheep farms.

24th May 2017 - Planning permission for 8ha Co Waterford solar farm

Waterford County Council has granted planning permission for a 5 megawatt (MW) solar power station on agricultural land in Dungarvan.

According to planning documents, the development by Dublin-based Power Capital Renewable Energy Ltd will consist of 20,000 photovoltaic panels capable of producing 5MW of electric power.

A number of transformer stations and other service buildings as well as access roads will also be built within the next 10 years.

Access to the national grid a key concern in solar developments and the site is next to an existing ESB substation. The council noted that an underground cable is expected to connect the two properties.

24th May 2017 - Farming 10 times more dangerous than average occupation

A new survey carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that farming carries with it the greatest risk of fatalities.

The ESRI sampled more than 800 farmers from a survey carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which found that farming had a fatality rate of 10 times the average across all occupations between 2009 and 2015.

The farmers in the study were all male and self-employed and none of them had regular paid employees.

The report examined areas in which farmers take risks on farms. It also looked at whether or not those risks are linked to accidents or near misses.

The study examined six jobs where farmers routinely fail to take adequate safety precautions.

  1. Getting help with difficult jobs.
  2. Using correct safety gear.
  3. Using PTOs or machinery guards.
  4. Checking that machinery is in good working working order.
  5. Using restraining or handling facilities around livestock.
  6. Keeping chemicals stored correctly.

Planning for East and Midland Water project expected Early 2018 - 17 May 2017

We understand Irish water are working toward making a planning application for the proposed East and Midlands Water Supply project early in 2018.

Irish Water are currently working their way through submissions received to the fourth Public Consultation which officially closed on 14th February and landowners continue to receive written responses to their submissions, with some landowners still making submissions.

In preparation for the making of the planning application Irish water are updating the preliminary designs and undertaking certain environmental assessments.

Property values are still rising but at slower pace - 17 May 2017

The value of prime Irish commercial property continued to increase in the first quarter of this year and rents are still rising across the market but the pace of growth continues to decelerate.

According to the latest SCSI/IPD Ireland Quarterly Property Index, % increases in values were

  • Industrial investments – Up 1.55%
  • Retail values               – Up 1.01%

Overall, Irish real estate is bucking a global trend as average Irish yields rose modestly in the most recent quarter due to underlying rental value and net income growth rates. The index estimates retail yields at 4.96% and offices at 5.83%.

Compiled by MSCI Inc, the authoritative barometer of the Irish commercial market showed total returns slowed from an average of 3% in 2016 to 2% in the first quarter of 2017.

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Kevin McEnteggart recently featured in a “Survivor’s Stories” media campaign on behalf of the Health & Safety Authority who are promoting Farm Safety. Kevin survived a farm accident as a child.

 

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24th May 2017 - Dawn and Dunbia announce UK joint venture ahead of Brexit

Dawn Meats has entered into a strategic partnership with rival Dunbia, which will see the establishment of a joint venture in the UK, comprising the UK operations of both organisations.

The tie-up, which is subject to regulatory approval, will also see Dawn Meats acquire Dunbia’s two operations in the Republic in Slane and Kilbeggan, bringing its network of facilities to nine.

Commercial property transactions exceed €470m so far in 2017 - 05/04/17

Commercial properties valued at over €470 million were transacted in the first three months of 2017, according to the latest figures compiled by Stephen Conway of Colliers International. The comparative figure in 2016 was €738 million.

More than 70 per cent of the latest spend was in Dublin and one transaction exceeded €100 million. In this instance Irish Life forward funded the planned new headquarters for Grant Thornton at City Quay at a cost of €136 million.

Despite the slow start to this year, Conway forecast that the turnover this year should be in the region of €3 billion.

Banks 'may be unwilling to lend to ease housing crisis' 18/4/17

A confidential internal Central Bank report has warned that Irish banks may be unwilling to lend enough cash to developers to solve the housing crisis if the economy grows as predicted.

The risk-analysis report also warns that, since the 2008 crash, the banking sector’s ability to predict the size of bank loan funding gaps has been “obscured” by the growth of cash buyers in the residential market and by the use of non-bank lenders by residential developers.

“The landscape for development finance has changed significantly” since 2008, the report’s authors note.

Residential development loans amount to just 1pc of total Irish loans, but experts in the Central Bank’s risk-analysis team have predicted a scenario where loan demand could grow to 3pc.

If this scenario is accurate, Irish lenders may be unwilling to meet the demand for vital development funding, the report warns. “Given the highly-concentrated nature of development lending, historic loss experience and associated capital intensity, this level of exposure may not be within the banks’ risk appetite.” The risk analysis report, entitled Scenario Analysis: What is the Impact of Higher Housing Output on the Banking Sector?, was circulated to Central Bank chiefs at a meeting of its governing board on January 23.

The report examines the impact on the economy of an increase in housing output driven by higher demand. It was commissioned to assess the domestic banks’ “funding capacity” and “sustainability” in the event that housing output levels reach 30,000 between now and 2024, compared with a current annual rate of 23,000.

A key finding of the report is that cash is still king for many Irish property buyers. Cash buyers account for about 60pc of all transactions and this trend will remain strong, with cash buyers making up at least 40pc of all home purchases between now and 2019. The report notes: “It is assumed that the level of cash buyers in the market will normalise in the coming years and a reduction to 40pc cash transactions assumption has been applied.”

Furthermore, self-builds accounted for 50pc of total completions in 2015 and the report forecasts only “a conservative reduction” in this rate in the new few years. The financing of residential schemes for developers has changed dramatically too, fuelling greater uncertainty about future funding models.

“The financing of new housing output is a key element in facilitating the banks to maintain and grow their mortgage portfolios. However, the current funding model for the financing of land and development for residential property is complex and fragmented,” said the report.

“The landscape for development finance has changed significantly such that there are a number of non-bank lenders in the market. They range from developers listed on the stock exchange, to private equity funds, Nama and the State in various forms.”

Connacht land values rise but Munster falls 20% 12/04/2017

Low commodity prices for milk and grain as well as increasing uncertainty surrounding Brexit are just some of the factors that led to a subdued level of activity in the agricultural land market in 2016. Land values in Munster were the worst hit, according to a new report on agricultural land prices by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and Teagasc. Selling prices for holdings with more than 100 acres with a residence fell by 20 per cent while those without a dwelling fell by 9 per cent.

The declines were less significant for small holdings with up to 50 acres. Conversely, the biggest increase was reported in Connacht and Ulster where land values increased across all land categories. Small holdings with a residence increased in value by 12 per cent compared to 2015 while the other land categories saw increases in the range of 1 and 5 per cent. Dairy farms “The fall in land values in Munster may represent a reaction to the drop in profitability on dairy farms in 2016 following two particularly high dairy income years in 2014 and 2015,” said Teagasc economist Jason Loughrey. In Leinster prices for land with less than 50 acres showed the largest increase with average prices increasing by up to 6 per cent compared with 2015. In the medium and large holding categories, the increases were more modest coming in between 1 and 2 per cent.

On the regional variation Edward McAuley, SCSI regional manager, said: “Some surveyors attributed the price increases in Connacht/Ulster to the expansion of commercial forestry and believe this expansion is taking a substantial volume of some of the better agricultural land out of circulation.” The report surveyed rural agency surveyors, 42 per cent of whom predict agricultural land values will remain unchanged in 2017. Their forecast appears consistent with the agricultural sector outlook in the report, which predicts a fall in beef and lamb prices this year, but an increase in milk and cereal prices. The report showed the performance of the land rental market was steadier than the land sales market in 2016. and 51 per cent of chartered surveyors predicted no change in prices.

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