The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has warned the UK has insufficient testing capacity to ensure certain manufacturers can legally sell goods in the country from 2023 under new post-Brexit requirements.
According to the Financial Times, the CLC believes that without a rethink of the existing policy, manufacturers of products such as radiators may be unable to sell goods legally in the UK once the existing CE mark is no longer recognised in the UK from the end of next year.
The council has written to several senior government ministers arguing that there is a severe shortage of capacity in the UK to meet the demand for testing of construction products needed for them to obtain the new ‘UKCA’ Mark.
The UKCA mark will become mandatory for goods such as building and engineering equipment sold in the UK and is scheduled to be introduced in 2022 to replace the CE mark that is currently used across the EU and the UK to demonstrate products that comply with safety standards.
The government, however, has confirmed that the CE mark will continue to be recognised until 2023, due to concerns raised by several industry bodies.
But even with the delayed introductions, the CLC has stated in the open letter to ministers that not enough has been done to make sure that there are sufficient testing sites and locations across the country to achieve UKCA by 2023.
“There must be a significant expansion of facilities with the incumbent recruiting and training of staff, who must all then receive authorisation by UKAS before more products can be put through the new process. Unfortunately, this expansion of capacity is not happening quickly enough,” the letter said.
The council added that measures such as the use of subcontractors and overseas testing, or providing more flexibility to use the EU’s CE safety mark could be used to ease the transition to new UK-specific marking.
The open letter is addressed to both Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The CLC added that evidence gathered from UK construction manufacturers over the past 12 months has highlighted that many common products such as radiators, sealant, and passive fire protections are at risk due to a lack of testing capacity, and said that if the situation prevails, these products, and others, will not be on the market in the UK after the January 2023 deadline.
The council’s letter stated, “The inability to certify radiators in the UK, for instance, could delay the construction of over 150,000 homes in a single year and will also delay the switch to low carbon heating.”
It said that consequences of such are not only damaging to the UK construction sector, but also the government’s housebuilding, infrastructure, building safety, and net-zero ambitions.
The CLC argued that several market failures had led to concerns within the construction sector about testing capacity.
These failures include the relatively small scale of UK construction products testing in the UK, the business impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the limited timelines for the industry to move from the EU CE Mark to the new UK-specific designation.
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