Are Brexit plans inclusive enough of sustainable construction?

With immigration, the economy and trade being at the forefront of the Brexit discussion over the last two years, little noise has been made about the impact this will have on the country’s construction industry, comments Michael Slater, Regional Operational Manager at Western Thermal.


lready in a state of decline, construction is in desperate need of a revival once Britain leaves the EU in March this year, so that it can thrive, prosper and help carry the country through what will be a testing time. Sustainable construction is no exception to this as the need for a much more environmentally-friendly sector.

There is no doubt that the EU has some of the most detailed and extensive environmental and sustainability laws of any organisation in the world. This is because they are a combination of other international policies on the subject. They address the likes of acid rain, air quality, noise pollution and the ever-growing importance of sustainable energy. It is clear that sustainable development is at the heart of EU policy and its economic, environmental and social benefits are evident to many, especially the UK Government as it prepares to exit the European Union.

The Government has already said that proposals for new environmental laws after Brexit will ensure that current EU laws on the matter are not weakened. Although things may change, one policy that should be deemed a priority is the ‘polluter pays’ principle, in which those who cause forms of pollution can be held accountable in court and forced to pay a fine. Upholding this can see businesses feel obliged to remain environmentally-friendly when completing projects. The cost of this can, therefore, put companies off from taking shortcuts and damaging the area around them. It makes people and companies accountable and will impact their businesses as a result, meaning that sustainability becomes even more important.

By having a plan in place, the UK is reinforcing its firm commitment to a greener Britain; the industry will be able to reap the rewards of such strategic planning post-Brexit. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive could be crucial to this as they provide strict guidelines which companies must abide by in order to help combat emissions and global warming.

Despite the concerns that the Government could relax its green building rules and regulations, the lowering cost of eco-technology and growing customer demand for environmentally-friendly builds could prove to be the antidote for the industry. The country has already been seen to have a much stronger vision and commitment to its targets than what is currently put in place by the EU, and this can only help the industry shift into a new direction in the future, meaning that Brexit is likely to have little impact in this sense.

Nevertheless, sustainability has the potential to prosper in Brexit Britain, but the Government must show its commitment by undertaking impact assessments when it comes to implementing trade agreements.

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