Councils collected just €378,000 in derelict site levies in 2020

Eight local authorities sought to impose levies but failed to bring in any funds

Local authorities collected €378,000 last year through the Derelict Sites Levy, a small fraction of the almost €12.5 million in cumulative unpaid charges.

Imposing the levy - an annual charge of 7 per cent of the value of a site - is among the powers that local authorities can use to deal with the issue of unused properties.

However, last year’s figures show that eight councils that sought to impose the levy failed to collect any income from it and that 13 local authorities did not impose any levy at all.

The information was provided to Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould, who said the figures involved are “not just disappointing, they are scandalous”.


“Right across this State there are potential homes left to rot,” he said.

Under the Derelict Sites Act, councils can apply the levy, which requires owners to take appropriate measures to deal with the dereliction, or attempt to acquire sites by agreement or compulsorily.

Mr Gould, a Cork North Central TD, said no local authority collected the full amount due through the levy and that many had collected nothing, which he said was “clearly a Government problem”.

“This isn’t the case of one council dropping the ball, this is a case of systemic underfunding and failure to support local authorities that has left them unable to fulfil vital functions.”

The Department of Housing responded to his criticism with a statement saying the funding system for local authorities was “complex” with income streams such as commercial rates, charges for goods and services and funding from central government.

It said that total transfers of funding from all central government sources to local authorities amounted to €6.08 billion last year.

The department said the proportion of the overall annual budget of a local authority which is spent on addressing dereliction is a matter for individual councils.

‘Significant powers’

It also said the levy is only one of a number of “significant powers” that local authorities have to tackle the problem of dereliction in towns and cities.

“The department continues to liaise with local authorities on the implementation of the Derelict Sites Act with a view to improving its effectiveness, and continues to keep the relevant provisions under review,” it said.

In total the cumulative amount of levies outstanding at the end last year, taking into account those that were unpaid in previous years, stood at €12.47 million.

Some €5.45 million in Derelict Site Levies were imposed last year with a total of just €378,763 collected by nine local authorities.

Cork City Council collected the most - €163,231 out of more than €1.7 million sought and Dublin City Council collected €142,165 out of more than €1.6 million sought. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council brought in €25,800 and Galway City Council received €21,000.

Limerick City and County Council collected €15,545, Westmeath County Council €6,502, Carlow County Council received €3,500, Cork County Council got €900 and Kilkenny County Council received €120.

Local authorities that sought to impose levies but did not receive any returns last year were Kerry which sought €150,162; Kildare which looked for €93,450, Louth (€13,500), Meath (€116,654), South Dublin (€37,417), Tipperary (€45,150), Wexford (€199,640) and Wicklow (€42,000).

Thirteen local authorities did not seek any levies though as it is limited to urban centres under the Derelict Sites Act there are limited areas that it can be applied in some rural counties. Laois County Council did not submit a return on its Derelict Sit Levy figures to the department.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times