Ireland, 16 March 2007: Government intends to use sophisticated “spies in the sky” to detect people’s home improvements or amenities that would affect the value of their properties. The Conservatives, who have been carrying out an investigation into the council tax revaluation database, say that Northern Ireland is being used as a testing ground for GIS based taxation involving aerial photographs and satellites.
With the report on local government finance by Sir Michael Lyons being published this week, the Tories said that, contrary to ministerial claims, the Valuation & Lands Agency, which acts as the Northern Ireland council tax department has teamed up with Ordnance Survey to use “oblique aerial photography” and “large-scale mapping” for tax valuations on people’s homes. The two bodies have been combined into one “shadow agency” to facilitate data sharing between them.
“The public have already expressed concern at the prospect of tax inspectors with clipboards and cameras forcibly entering their homes. Now it appears that the Government will also be using planes and satellites to snoop on people’s homes and lay the ground for taxes on home improvements and nice neighbourhoods.”