Industry organisations were swift to react to the result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU and the majority vote to leave — dubbed Brexit.
Julia Evans, chief executive of BSRIA summarised the key questions for the Government. ‘How do we maintain economic investor confidence? What does this mean for energy efficiency? And how will this impact the skills issue, and how should we address this? Specifically regarding labour, how will the industry access much-needed tradesmen?’
She was also concerned about carbon-reduction energy policies, asking if they will still be followed and stressing that industry needs to be reassured — and quickly.
Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of the Building Engineering Services Association believes the building engineering services sector has a major role to play following the result of the referendum. He said, ‘The projects carried out by our companies are now even more crucial as we strive to stabilise the economy ad move forward. We must now focus on growth across the sector and help the Government deliver on its promises for infrastructure developments, housing and improved energy performance of buildings.’
He continued, ‘The fallout from our decision to leave the EU now puts pressure on businesses across the country to get projects moving to help stimulate growth. There are, clearly, going to be some major bumps in the road to negotiate, and some contractors will be nervous about what lies ahead. However, there is no need for rushed decisions as it will take some time to negotiate our way out of EU treaties and reset our economy.’
On the technical front, BESA states that most of the standards that directly affect the industry will remain unchanged as the key EU regulations were transposed into UK law long ago. However, there are a number of provisional standards and other proposals currently under discussion that must not be in doubt.
Paul McLaughlin concludes, ‘Specific technical issues are largely unaffected. It is the economy that matters now, and we should not forget that the UK Government is committed to major infrastructure and house-building programmes that are providing a welcome boost to our sector.
For now, we can leave the politicians to focus on sorting out the parliamentary fall-out while we get back to the vital business of delivering acceptable levels of sophistication in building engineering, improving energy efficiency and the uptake of renewables, and driving up levels of recruitment to plug our country’s engineering skills gap.’
And from CIBSE, John Field, the institution’s president, said, ‘CIBSE is planning for life after the Brexit vote with the firm belief that our strong professional leadership remains the base on which the interests of our members and the public they serve can best be supported.
‘We do not anticipate any significant alteration in the very positive engagement we maintain with members across the globe and suggest that the referendum result creates significant opportunities and commitments to increase engagement with regional, national and global interests.’