Waterford TD John Deasy has been informed that farmers who wish to install CCTV to deter criminals targeting rural communities can avail of either of two tax reliefs.
The Fine Gael deputy had put down a Dáil question asking the Minister for Finance if consideration has been given to an incentive or clawback scheme for farmers seeking to put in cameras or similar security equipment.
Minister Paschal Donohoe told the Fine Gael deputy: “I am advised by Revenue that a farmer would be entitled to write off the cost of installing a CCTV system against her or his farming income as a CCTV system would qualify for capital allowances. The cost may be written off over eight years.”
He added that where a farmer does not have an entitlement to capital allowances (he or she may be retired and no longer trading for example), relief may be available under the Home Renovation Incentive scheme.
The HRI scheme provides income tax relief of 13.5% of the cost of certain repairs, renovations and improvements carried out on a person's main residence. The installation of security equipment (such as CCTV cameras) comes within the terms of the incentive.
It should be noted that, as relief under HRI is restricted to works carried out on a residence, the installation of a CCTV camera to protect an out-building, or other non-residential part of a farm, would not qualify.
“The relief is granted by way of a credit against income tax over the two years following the year in which the works are paid for. Half of the relief is given in each year,” John Deasy says.
The key features of the scheme are that works must be carried out by a tax compliant contractor, and prior to 31 December 2018. Also, Local Property Tax payments must be up to date in respect of the property; and the cost of the works must be greater than €4,405 and not more than €30,000 (both figures exclusive of VAT). The cost of multiple works by different contractors may be aggregated in a claim.
After raising traffic concerns, Deasy seeks update as pupil population could hit 1,350
Waterford TD John Deasy has been told that a major extension at Árdscoil na Mara, Tramore is on track, pending a planning decision from the Council, which is due soon.
The Fine Gael deputy tabled a Dáil question asking the Minister for Education and Skills to provide an update on plans to provide an additional nine classrooms and other accommodation works.
Replacing the CBS and Stella Maris secondary schools, the €15m co-educational campus was completed and opened in March 2014 under the Department’s Public Private Partnership programme.
However, it soon became clear that capacity couldn’t cater for the numbers seeking to enrol in Tramore, with the school’s population having grown beyond the 1,000 students originally envisaged.
There are currently 1,170 students (up from 1,132 in 2016-17) with 1,350 projected once an extension is in place. A 2019 opening is being targeted. With a principal and three deputies, teaching staff numbers will increase over the same period from 63 initially to 70 now, and an anticipated 79.
Replying to Deputy Deasy, Education Minister Richard Bruton confirmed: “It is my Department’s intention to provide an extension to the school to meet the demand for additional school accommodation in the area.”
A planning application to proceed with the extension was lodged with Waterford City and County Council last June by contractors BAM Building Ltd, in partnership with the Department.
“My Department has since responded to a request for further information from the Council in that respect,” Mr Bruton said. This information was provided a week before Christmas and a decision is due this week, January 24.
The Minister added: “Subject to the decision of the Council on the matter, it is our intention to then proceed to the final stages of preparing the project for construction and delivery.”
The proposed development would involve modifications and extensions to the existing school building and the construction of a 3-storey extension and additional accessible car-parking spaces.
One of the concerns the Council raised in its request for additional information was traffic management — an issue since the school opened and one which Deasy repeatedly took up with the local authority and senior gardaí, following contacts from staff, parents and residents.
MHL Consulting Engineers carried out a traffic impact report for the Department. To determine expected traffic generation, it surveyed traffic patterns and volumes at four junctions in the immediate vicinity of the school in early October.
It has advised that with better sequencing of traffic lights, no road network layout changes are required to facilitate the expansion. The reduction of cars parked on the road outside the school — something school management have worked to improve with staff — will ensure traffic is able to flow at peak times, its report says. The school also stressed its commitment to encouraging alternative means of transport and initiatives to relieve congestion.
Deputy John Deasy says marketing the Waterford Greenway through the Wild Atlantic Way website would boost tourism business in the county overnight.
While describing the prospect of a Viking coastal drive as an overdue revamp of the existing southeast touring route, the Fine Gael TD is in discussions with Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin with a view to incorporating the Waterford Greenway into the Wild Atlantic Way website.
Visitor numbers to the west of Ireland have soared on the back of the Wild Atlantic Way promotional blitz, which was launched four years ago. However, the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative hasn’t had the same impact since it was introduced as a counterweight in April 2015.
Before that, Deasy met with senior Fáilte Ireland officials and persuaded the tourism authority to allow Waterford City and County Council pitch for inclusion in the Wild Atlantic Way. Ultimately, getting East Cork interests involved — key to connecting the Atlantic coastlines — proved impossible.
He explained: “Once it was clear Waterford wasn’t going to be accepted into the Wild Atlantic Way, I specifically asked the Department of Tourism to take action to address the redundant and obsolete South East Coastal Drive, which includes Waterford’s 147km of coastline.
“Local tourism operators, disappointed at Waterford’s exclusion from the Wild Atlantic Way, highlighted how a coastal driving route already exists between Ardmore and Wexford, with signage erected nearly 20 years ago still in place at various points. But a rebranding was clearly needed.”
Fáilte Ireland has now sought submissions from suitably qualified parties to carry out a feasibility study “to assess the potential of delivering of a Viking Coast proposition as a world-class visitor experience for the coastal counties of the Ireland’s Ancient East geography.”
A request for bids by January 26 was published days before Christmas. The brief is to gauge the viability of “a motivating signature experience for overseas visitors and, if feasible, will recommend how the Viking Coast can be harnessed into a coherent year-round tourism offering.”
These efforts followed suggestions put forward in an economic report underpinning the Waterford councils merger in 2014. That blueprint identified the dual importance of cultural tourism and the potential for “a high quality branded coastal driving route along the UNESCO Copper Coast Geopark.”
Satisfied that the island’s remaining coastal drive deficit “is now being taken seriously”, Deasy says the fact that the (Giant’s) Causeway Coastal Route is mentioned on the Wild Atlantic Way website “sets a precedent for packaging attractions beyond the west of Ireland with the Wild Atlantic Way.”
While the huge investment in the Viking Triangle in the city is obviously part of Fáilte Ireland’s thinking, there are over 300 tourism-related businesses operating along Waterford’s Atlantic coastline — a number of which have thrived due to the Greenway’s instant impact.
“The massive success and appeal of the Waterford Greenway would be a major selling point in terms of promoting attractions along a new South East coastal route,” Deasy added.
“An an immediate step, marketing the Waterford Greenway through the Wild Atlantic Way website — which has proven a huge draw — would vastly expand its potential audience and uptake. Greenways in the west are already included, so adding Waterford should be next,” he says.