Waterford City Council has confirmed that €1.4m is currently owed to the local authority in unpaid development levies.

The money was intended to be used for community infrastructure such as road, sewerage and water projects and the Council is being forced to take legal action to pursue the outstanding charges, particularly given recent cuts to the Local Government Fund which helps pay for Council services.

Levies are agreed with developers once planning permission is granted and it emerged this week that developers throughout the country owe more than half a billion euro in unpaid charges, raising fears that cash-strapped councils will abandon much-needed projects.

A spokesperson for the City Council said the Waterford office had not been forced to write off any unpaid rates from struggling businesses due to the economic downturn, though legal proceedings had commenced in relation to half a million euros of the amount owed.

A further €500,000 is outstanding from developments which commenced in the latter half of last year, while the remaining monies owed involve the phased payment of development levies on several large and small-scale developments in the city.

Local authorities say that defaulters will be pursued, especially given the current economic circumstances. “Local authorities are always concerned to maximise the revenue due to them from all sources,” a spokesman for the County and City Manager’s Association said. “Given the current financial realities and the reduction in funding from government, this is even more important.”