More industry bodies warn of post-Brexit law cull’s ‘dire consequences’

Several more industry bodies have sounded the alarm over possible “dire consequences” of post-Brexit legislation to scrap EU laws. 

Under the Retained EU Law Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, around 3,700 pieces of EU law need to be reviewed by the end of this year. Some will be retained or amended, while others will be discontinued. 

Of these, 23 specifically relate to construction, according to government figures. 

In a letter to business secretary Kemi Badenoch, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) raised concerns about the widespread impact. 

“We are concerned about the complexity of the task at hand given this imminent deadline,” the letter, dated 3 March, said. “It is realistic to say that reforming or amending EU law will be a time-consuming and resource-heavy process, and with the sheer volume of laws which will need to be inspected in detail we are concerned that some may fall through the cracks, the consequences of which could be dire.” 

Concerns have previously been raised about the changes, with Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Sarah Ludford last month branding the bill as “extremely unwise, ill-considered and reckless” as she voiced fears about its effect on building safety measures. 

Last month a scaffolding body also warned that standards could drop if there are changes to the Work at Height Regulations.

The latest letter from the industry bodies also warned about the impact on health and safety regulations. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations all reportedly could be dropped. 

“These are crucial pieces of legislation that have helped drive forward a step change in the way that workplace health and safety in the built environment is managed,” the letter said. “Over the past decade, significant steps have been made to ensure that the built environment is a safer place for its constructors and users. There are serious risks that this hard work could be undone if due care is not taken to ensure that equal (or better) legislation is put in place by 31 December 2023.”

In the letter, the industry groups also hit out at the confusion surrounding the shake-up. “At present it is not clear which pieces of legislation will be revoked, repealed, retained or amended,” the letter said. 

“Construction is an industry that thrives on stability, something which has been lacking as a result of the increasing costs of energy, materials, and labour, the ongoing skills gap, and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The groups also called for the government to communicate early with industry leaders to ensure “further instability is not created”. 

The letter concluded by calling for a meeting with ministers. “Built environment professional bodies are communicating collaboratively now more so than ever and we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with government as a group to discuss these concerns further.”

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