Monday 25 September 2017

Minister defends development levy to business leaders

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Minister defends development levy to business leaders

The Minister for the Environment has hit back at business leaders who wrote a highly critical open letter attacking his proposals to introduce a levy on new developments in the island.

In the letter, which was signed by groups including the Chamber of Commerce and the Ports of Jersey, the proposed Jersey Infrastructure Levy (JIL) came under fire, prompting Deputy Steve Luce to respond.

The JIL proposes to claim back a percentage of the profit land owners enjoy when planning permission is granted in order to fund parish infrastructure as well as the ‘Future St Helier’ project to rejuvenate town.

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Pictured: The Department for the Environment hopes that, if passed, the money raised from the JIL will go towards rejuvenating town (Picture: JIL consultation document).

The letter draws the following three conclusions, which Deputy Luce has responded to in turn:

1. "Critical JIL questions... have not been addressed or responded to now or previously"

Deputy Luce refutes this claim, saying that since the announcement of the JIL in January 2016, the Department for the Environment has been in consultation with the industry.

He said: “We have held numerous meetings and discussions, individually and collectively, to gather feedback.” He added: “We’ve only just closed the 12-week public consultation which invited written responses, and once we’ve reviewed the responses we’ll be providing another update.”

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Pictured: The proposed timeline for the introduction of the JIL.

2. "Scrutiny have not carried out a review of the proposed levy, with regards the impact it may have on development and the island's economy"

Deputy Luce insists that Scrutiny have been kept informed throughout the process and that they will continue to be involved should the proposals for the JIL progress further. He commented: “We welcome the critical challenge provided by Scrutiny if they choose to assess and ‘call in’ a fully formed and more detailed policy prior to final consideration.”

3. "In light of Brexit... commerce is looking to Jersey's government to implement measures that boost confidence and grow the economy, not increase the tax burden and costs"

Despite the concerns expressed by some of the island’s biggest business leaders, Deputy Luce said that the JIL “is still considered a viable policy” under Brexit.

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Pictured: Deputy Luce has come up against business leaders from the construction and hospitality sectors over his proposals to introduce a levy on new developments in the island.

Commenting on the overall reception of the JIL proposal, Deputy Luce said: "We’ve received a mix of views on the proposals, and all comments will be considered carefully before we put forward detailed proposals for debate. On balance though, I believe there’s support for the contribution the levy will directly make to improving essential community infrastructure in neighbourhoods throughout Jersey, but particularly in St Helier, where development pressure is most focused and where there is a need to improve the town."

Before signing off their letter, the business representatives wrote: “Our joint response to the JIL consultation has deliberately been kept brief, as we feel the sentiment expressed is clear, that JIL must not be implemented.”

The letter is signed by Chamber’s Building and Development Committee, Jersey Construction Council, Jersey Farmers Union, The Association of Jersey Architects, The Jersey Hospitality Association and the Ports of Jersey.

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