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Kenilworth, Warwickshire, United Kingdom, 2007/09/03 - The Construction Centre today announced its support of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (RES) Bill and welcomed the proposals for consistent and proportionate methods to deal with non-compliance to regulations within the building industry.
The draft bill is expected to become law in April 2008 and proposes significant changes for regulators across the industry, affecting both small and large construction companies.
The Construction Centre warned that companies would need to be fully prepared for the changes next year as the new powers extended to regulators will mean enforcements and sanctions can be issued much more efficiently and effectively.
The main focus of the changes are to ensure that offenders receive proportionate and consistent penalties for non-compliance, whereas previously trends have been either to take matters to the criminal courts or simply issue a warning. Many of the proposals contained in the draft bill have arisen from the Hampton report, issued in 2005 which assessed regulatory inspection and enforcement practices throughout the UK. Following this the Macrory review regarding the sanctioning regime also led to many recommendations for change.
The bill comprises of two main parts. The first is to create a Local Better Regulations Office (LBRO) to ensure Local Authorities exercise their regulatory duties in a proportionate and consistent way. It is also hoped this will reduce administrative burdens on the industry and allow for transparency as to how regulations are enforced at a local level.
The second part regards a list of sanctions which will be available to regulatory bodies such as the Health & Safety Executive and Environment Agency, enabling them to issue fines and actionable orders without the need for a court order. These sanctions are targeted at minor or technical breaches of regulations and will allow for tighter controls with immediate consequences to those who do not comply.
In essence, the new powers given to regulators enable them to issue on the spot fines, order action to be taken to ensure non-compliance does not continue and to resolve the issue so that compliance is achieved. Regulators will be able to prevent any work continuing on site for up to six months, until matters are resolved in the areas of health and environment. Under the new proposals, certain circumstances will also give offenders the opportunity to actively resolve non-compliance, repair or pay damages.
Richard Simmons Managing Director of The Construction Centre and a property developer for over 25years said “I welcome this in a guarded manner if it achieves consistency and fairness throughout the industry. If however, it is a back door to yet more regulatory control, it would be disappointing for private enterprise, which has made huge and effective strides in the last decade. The reforms are likely to result in a quicker resolution of regulatory breaches which would be very welcome indeed, since the worry of ongoing cases is always a huge but un-measurable price that company bosses have to pay”.
The Construction Centre (theconstructioncentre.co.uk), in supporting the bill hopes that regulators will embrace the new powers available to them, as they will not be obliged to adopt them initially. It is however likely that regulators, such as the HSE and Environment Agency will see the proposals as a positive step forward for the industry, to ensure regulations are being met by both small and large construction firms.