Windsor Framework ‘To Cut Construction Costs’
The passing of the Windsor Framework to revise the Northern Ireland protocol at Westminster may bring a number of benefits to the construction sector in Northern Ireland, an assessment of its implications has indicated.
As Construction News reports, the sector has welcomed the new arrangements. Rebecca Larkin, head of construction research at the Construction Products Association, said the ‘green lane’ for goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would enable materials and equipment to be transported more easily, without bureaucracy and at a lower cost.
All this should be good news for digger dealers in Northern Ireland, as lower costs and less red tape will make it easier to get construction projects up and running.
If steel is being used in any project, the new arrangements could make a major difference. As UK Steel director general Gareth Stace noted, changes to EU rules on steel imports after the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to an immediate “farcical” 25 per cent hike in the cost of steel going from the mainland to Northern Ireland.
The new deal should change this, he added, observing: “Today’s deal will make a significant difference in being able to move steel tariff-free from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.”
However, others interviewed by Construction News were less positive about the situation, with some firms who have previously imported items from the UK to Irish ports and then into Northern Ireland as a “workaround” thinking there is little value in now switching back. Ms Larkin acknowledged that this would often be the case.
While the deal was passed easily by the House of Commons, with the only dissenting voices coming from a few Conservative backbenchers and the DUP, the discontent of the latter party with the terms of the Windsor Framework means it remains unwilling to resume power sharing at Stormont.
A continuation of that impasse may be bad news for construction, not least at it would stop the assembly making decisions that could involve new infrastructure investment.