Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed a Department for Transport agreement to make a new call for evidence on changes to rules which risk harming local construction companies, following his debate on the issue this afternoon.
The debate focused on new restrictions expected to come into force in the coming years which will reduce the allowed weight of smaller concrete transporters. Volumetric Concrete Mobile plants (VCMs) deliver concrete to smaller businesses and individuals, particularly in remote areas and tight urban sites, compared to larger traditional drum concrete carriers.
VCMs operate across the UK, and their manufacture and use is estimated to contribute £380m to the economy, employing over 15,000 skilled workers. Local businesses such as Andrew Sinclair Ltd in Orkney and Tulloch Developments Ltd in Shetland are among those affected by changes to regulation.
Leading the debate, Mr Carmichael said:
“There is a very real danger here that if the government’s regulation of the sector gets the balance wrong then the whole volumetric concrete sector could be placed at risk and a small but important part of the construction industry could be lost, for very little discernible benefit that I can see.
Let us consider what is at stake in this industry. VCMs operate right across the UK, and their manufacture and use are estimated to contribute £380m to the economy, employing over 15,000 skilled workers. They operate the length and breadth of the country.
“In communities such as those that I represent they are of prime importance to the local construction sector. Businesses such as Andrew Sinclair Ltd in Orkney and Tulloch Developments Ltd in Shetland tell me regularly about the desperately detrimental impact that the proposed changes would have on them.
“I would suggest that there is substantial evidence out there which would support a different approach if the department were minded to harvest it in a systematic way. The thinking of the department may have been different in 2018 and there is a need now for the approach to VCMs to catch up and to benefit from the same approach.”
In responding to the debate, the Minister of State for Decarbonisation and Technology, Jesse Norman MP, agreed to hold a new “call for evidence” on the matters raised.
Following the debate Mr Carmichael said:
“I am glad that we are seeing some progress with a new call for evidence as a result of this debate today. This is the way that government is supposed to work. There is a strong case to be made for a rethink by officials – now we need to make it.”