Housing minister Lee Rowley cannot confirm if the government will meet the June 2025 deadline for implementing the UKCA marking scheme.
Rowley told the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee last week that the UK currently lacks specialised testing houses to process construction products imported from the EU to ensure they meet UKCA marking regulations.
“The testing capability is not in the UK at the moment and it will be difficult to replicate it because the amount of capital that’s required to create it conceptually could be extraordinarily large,” said Rowley.
“It’s making me more convinced that June 25 is actually a pipe dream,” replied Labour MP Kate Hollern, who had asked the minister whether the government is on track for the deadline.
Testing capability challenges
Rowley did not specify any concrete measures when asked about the steps the government is taking to ensure sufficient testing capacity in the country, and if there are plans to develop a workforce.
Instead, he highlighted the difficulties of replicating the testing capacity “in the more specialist end of this discussion”.
He said: “I don’t have a specific example, but conceptually, there’s going to be stuff that isn’t tested very often, that may not have been tested within the European market for a while, and replicating that in the UK is going to be a challenge.
“That doesn’t mean that every single testing is going to be a problem, but I want to accept that there is a question about how we bring all that together and then we need to work through exactly how testing works.
“I want to make sure that the outcome is the thing that is focused on and that these products are safe in whatever ways they need to be safe. How we do that is open to discussion.”
Hollern also asked Rowley if CE-marked products manufactured in Northern Ireland would be recognised and marketed in Great Britain.
Products with the CE and UKNI [United Kingdom Northern Ireland mark] can be placed on the Great Britain market if they are qualifying Northern Ireland goods.
However, it is unclear whether after the June 2025 deadline, construction products manufactured in Northern Ireland with a CE marking will be accepted in Great Britain.
“We have to conform with the Windsor framework and the information within that unless Stormont makes a decision to change their approach,” Rowley replied. “We will bring forward proposals which are within the established framework.”
The Windsor framework is a post-Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU to facilitate the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. It came into effect on 1 October 2023.
Delays and U-turns
As part of the UK’s departure from the European Union, the government planned new rules requiring products that had previously had the CE markings to shift to the new United Kingdom Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark to demonstrate they comply with Great Britain product safety regulations.
The UKCA implementation, which was originally scheduled to become mandatory on 1 January 2022, has been repeatedly delayed. The government made a U-turn last summer with the announcement that UK businesses will be able to continue using the CE marking indefinitely.
However, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities rushed to clarify that the extension did not include construction products, which will require the UKCA mark from 30 June 2025.
This story first appeared on www.constructionmanagment.co.uk