Remove the guess work

RSUA looks for construction clarity from Northern Ireland Executive...

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to provide clarity on what construction activities are permitted over the next 3 weeks. In light of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the key question remains whether non-essential building sites should have opened on Monday or not. Since then the Department for the Economy has published a list of priority sectors and workplace safety guidance. Responding to the publication, Joan McCoy, President of the (RSUA) said: “In every other part of the UK and Ireland there is clarity on what construction activities are currently allowed. The list and guidance provided by the NI Executive does not provide sufficient clarity and is only advisory. The decision on whether to proceed with any or all construction activities has been left with individual companies. This is a question of public policy and should not be left in the hands of individual businesses.”

The RSUA President questioned the list’s real world application: “A list of priority business activities is meaningful if they are the only ones permitted. However, the priority sector list for Northern Ireland does not appear to have this status. Therefore, it is unclear what relevance the priority list has. The Minister has said that if a company can work within the social distancing guidelines then it should do so. We understand that this means that all construction activities are allowed during this three week period where social distancing guidelines can be adhered to. However that does not provide clarity on what should happen where social distancing guidelines cannot be applied. Is this where the list of priority sectors becomes relevant?”

It was also noted that the construction sector was not part of the consultation process. “We shouldn’t be guessing. Construction clients need answers. Should they expect people back on site or not. It is notable that the construction sector was not directly represented on the Department for Economy’s Engagement Forum. It is a sector with a complex network of businesses that contribute significantly to the economy. It’s a particularly challenging sector to turn off and on and government needs to hear that message.”

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