Resolve crisis, government urged

The government must resolve the looming crisis over product compliance, which could see products brought to market illegally, or parts of the industry “come to a grinding halt”.

The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) wrote to cabinet ministers from three different government departments hightlighting concerns over UKCA marking and CE Marking for products to comply with the Construction Products Regulation in the UK and in the EU respectively.

After December 31, 2021, CE Marked products will no longer be compliant in the GB market (England, Scotland and Wales) and products will require to be UKCA marked to be UK CPR compliant.

Simultaneously, products exported from the UK and placed into the European Union market will have to be CE Marked for EU CPR compliance.

For UK companies that have been complying with the CPR, and have had their products tested by a UK Approved Body (Test House), it means they will be able to continue to place those products on the UK market as they will comply with UKCA.

However, products that have been tested by an EU Notified Body (Test House) will have to be re-tested at a UK Approved Body (Test House) to comply with UKCA standards.

For UK companies that export to the EU (including Republic of Ireland) and have had their products tested by a UK Approved Body (Test House) they will have to be re-tested by an EU Notified Body (Test House) and re-certify their products to comply with CE marking.

The UK government had proposed that a ‘Mutual Recognition Agreement’ with test evidence and certification for products in both the UK and EU would be mutually accepted. However, this proposal was rejected by the EU.

The GGF said this leaves UK companies with a headache and three obstacles to overcome: the costs can range from £500 to £5,000 per product; the time involved in testing and compliance through to certification can take three months or longer, which is compounded by UK Test Houses also having to test products for the GB market from companies outside the EU and UK; and there is a severe lack of testing facilities in the UK.

It will also mean new products developed by UK companies will have to be tested twice to identical product standards.

John Agnew, GGF group managing director, said: “It is incumbent upon us to do all we can to resolve this situation before the deadline at the end of the year.”

As well as raising the matter with government, the GGF is also on the Construction Leadership Council Working Party which includes trade bodies such as Construction Products Association and Federation of Master Builders.

The GGF has asked that a Mutual Recognition Agreement is re-visited and re-proposed, or an alternative solution is found before the deadline.

The federation has also asked for an extension of at least two years to the deadline, to allow companies time to ensure their products are compliant.

“This crisis is deepening with each passing day and parts of the industry could come to a grinding halt, or companies in desperation could place products on the market without legal compliance,” John said.

“Either way, if it’s not resolved, then there could be serious consequences for our industry and the broader construction sector.”