Council's levy move to bring top movies to Ireland
Wicklow looks set to become the movie capital of Ireland as the council abolishes building levies to encourage expansion.
Wicklow County Council has scrapped development levies for TV and film studios in a bid to boost the industry in the Garden County, which is already home to top movie locations Ardmore and Ashford Studios.
With a string of hit series including Penny Dreadful and Vikings filming in Wicklow, the decision will mean that studios wanting to expand their business won't have to pay the €1 per 2.5 square foot charge that was previously in place.
Also, Wicklow County Council has also agreed to abolish development contributions for film studio infrastructure.
One such owner hoping to expand his business is Joe O'Connell, who runs Ashford Studios.
The businessman, who opened his state-of-the-art €22m studio in 2011, last year revealed his plans to expand the Ashford film location to seven times its size over the next 20 years and employ up to 5,000 people.
Ashford Studios currently employs 400 people and is the location for popular BBC historical series Vikings, with half of the scenes being shot in the studio and the rest in different areas of the county.
However, he previously said that he would not proceed with his expansion if Wicklow County Council charged him rates on the development.
"I believe Ashford could be the biggest thing in the film world," Mr O'Connell previously told the Herald.
"The infrastructure needs to be in place for Ireland to capitalise on what is already out there."
In a further effort to boost the movie business in Wicklow, the county council also plans to host Ireland's first Film Summit in 2016 to attract international filmmakers.
"The elected members of the council are very aware of the demand for studio space," Cllr John Ryan said.