PROPERTY TAX GRAB - A MILLION HOMEOWNERS WILL PAY MORE - Almost a million homeowners will pay extra property tax next year after a record number of local authorities hiked their rates.

A 'property tax grab' in the wake of the local elections has meant that 19 out of the country's 31 councils adjust prices upwards, the Irish Independent can reveal. The wave of increases has no precedent in the seven years since the Local Property Tax (LPT) was first introduced. Just eight local authorities have retained the standard rate for 2020, compared with 22 this year. Homeowners in Dublin will be the only ones to see the tax reduced, says the Irish Independent. Under the standard rate set by Government, the owner of a home valued at between €300,000 and €350,000 is liable for €585 in tax. However, local authorities have the power to raise or lower the standard rate by up to 15%. Ten counties have raised their prices by the maximum amount, which would add an extra €88 to the bill for a €300,000 home. Another five counties pushed their rate up by 10%, while four others will apply hikes of between 2.5% and 7.5%. In each case the decision to hike prices was taken by councillors who won't face re--election until May 2024. The Department of Housing said it "keeps abreast" of variation decisions by local authorities but did not seek "to pre-empt or anticipate those decisions". 

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DAA MADE BELOW-VALUATION OFFER FOR THIRD TERMINAL SITE - Dublin Airport owner DAA made an offer to purchase a site where a contentious plan for a third terminal is being advanced and told its owners that failure to take up the offer would hurt the value of any future deal offered by the airport. 

The 50 hectares (123 acres) are owned by brothers and aviation entrepreneurs Ulick and Des McEvaddy who have attracted Dubai-based investment firm Tricap as backers of their plan for a third terminal, says the Irish Times. In a 2017 letter outlining the offer, DAA said it wanted to buy the lands as they "could be of use for some secondary airport activities". However, DAA made clear that if the offer was ignored, it would proceed with these activities elsewhere and "our interest in these lands will revert solely to agricultural values which are currently between €10,000 and €20,000 per acre". It is understood that the figure offered to the McEvaddys was in the region of €20 million, significantly below the valuation of the lands which underpinned the deal with Tricap. The deal ultimately saw the Dubai financiers buy out debts secured on the lands, which had been transferred into Nama. Tricap is now backing the third terminal plan in the form of a joint venture with Omega Air, Ulick McEvaddy's aviation business that supplies mid-air refueling services to the US military.

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SENSOR TO CUT FOOT AND PLASTIC WASTE - Senoptica Technologies, a one-year-old start-up, aims to help reduce food and plastic packaging waste and thereby save money for food producers and retailers. 

It has a sensor that can test the oxygen level inside food packaging to ensure it contains the modified air used to keep the food fresh until its sell-by date. "Failed packaging is a major issue. It results in the spoilage of over 3% of the 177 billion food packs being produced globally every year," said company chief executive, Brendan Rice, who co-founded the Dublin-based company in July 2018. He said that the only checks currently available for packaging involve the destructive sample-testing of a small number of all packs produced. This results in the sample packaging having to be thrown away and the creation of additional plastic waste, says the Irish Examiner. "Senoptica’s solution is an ink formulation, which acts as an oxygen sensor and can be incorporated into the packaging. The food processor scans every pack containing the sensor, before it leaves the factory, to ensure that the oxygen level in each is correct. This means that faulty packs are less likely to enter into the food-supply chain," he said.

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CALL FOR BAN ON UK PRIVATE JETS BY 2025 AS FLIGHT TRAFFIC SOARS - Private jet flights to and from UK airports contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars per year and should be banned as soon as 2025 to encourage development of electric planes, according to a thinktank with close ties to the UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. 

In a report exposing the scale of fossil fuel private jet emissions, the Common Wealth thinktank found there were 128,000 flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 using private jets, representing 6% of total UK air traffic. A further 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe. The thinktank said the global heating impact of private flights to and from UK airports is roughly 1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year - the same as the annual emissions of around 450,000 typical cars on UK roads, says today's Guardian. It said that one private flight from London to New York was equivalent to driving a typical UK car non-stop for four and a half years. It added that a ban in five years' time would help spur the development of electric alternatives. Shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said the party would examine the report and "consult with industry on the introduction of a phase-out date for the use of fossil fuel private jets".