Section 395: fish farms
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Paragraph 9 of Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 as amended by paragraph 37(3) Schedule 5 of the Local Government & Housing Act 1989 provides for the exemption of some fish farms.
2. Extent of exemption
Paragraph 9(1) provides that a hereditament is exempt to the extent that it consists of any of the following:- a. Land used solely for or in connection with fish farming. b. Buildings (other than dwellings) so used.
Paragraph 9(4) defines ‘fish farming’ as “the breeding or rearing of fish, or the cultivation of shellfish, for the purpose of (or for purposes which include) transferring them to other waters or producing food for human consumption”.
But Paragraph 9(4A) provides an activity does not constitute “fish farming” if the fish or shellfish are, or include, fish or shellfish which are purely ornamental, or are bred, reared or cultivated for exhibition.
Paragraph 9(5) defines “shellfish” as including “crustaceans and molluscs of any description”.
“Land” should be taken to include land covered with water and any plant or structures (not being ‘buildings’) eg tanks. Buildings used for fish farming do not need to satisfy a “two hectare” rule as do agricultural livestock buildings under paragraph 5(4) of Sch. 5 LGFA 1988.
“Buildings” include a separate part of a building (paragraph 9(3) Sch.5). The guidance in RM Section 6 part 3: Section 390 in respect of “agricultural buildings” should be applied as appropriate to fish farms.
3.2 Snail Farms
A snail is the common name for a mollusc of the class Gastropoda which can be either of the terrestrial or freshwater variety and falls within the words “molluscs of any description”.
Consequently, where snail production is for the purpose of producing food for human consumption or for transfer to other waters it should enjoy the same exemption as fish farming.
4. “Used Solely”
“Used solely for or in connection with” in paragraph 9(1) is qualified by para 9(2) which introduces provisions similar to those contained in paragraph 8(3) of Schedule 5 and the guidance in RM Section 6 part 3 : Section 390 - Agricultural Buildings - should be followed.
5. Excluded Premises
Premises used solely for the primary marketing operations of killing, cleaning, packing and freezing should be considered as being within the scope of the exemption. However, those used for secondary marketing operations such as long term cold storage, smoking, filleting and preparation of fish products are not considered to be within the “used solely” requirement of para 9(1) and are therefore rateable. For the same reason any building used as a shop or restaurant, or land used as a customer’s car park, is rateable.
6. Shellfish Storage
The short term storage of live crabs and lobsters or other shellfish caught wild in the open sea is not considered to be “the cultivation of shellfish”.