The UK Contractors Group has called for construction to be excluded from the Carbon Reduction Commitment, saying that it risks putting those concerned at a competitive disadvantage.
The contractors’ body has said that the way in which the legislation is drafted will cause huge problems for the sector.
The CRC is a scheme directed at the largest organisations in the UK measured by their energy usage. It will mean big companies are fined or given bonuses according to their energy efficiency, in a league table of energy users.
The scheme is based on the idea that companies work from a specific number of sites, with the energy use easily measurable, the UKCG said: “This is not the case for the participating construction companies.”
Because contractors operate from many sites their energy use is not easily measured. “These hundreds or even thousands of sites will together generate many thousands of invoices not only for metered supplies but also for fuel used in construction plant and transport and including for on-site electricity generation.”
The UKCG added it is unclear who will bear the burden for joint venture arrangements, or even PFI deals.
It said: “In many PFI arrangements the purchaser of the energy / fuel has no authority over the user of the facility and the use of that energy / fuel and yet is to be made responsible for the emissions and for the purchase of allowances.”
Fuel used in transport is excluded from the energy use measurements, posing several other problems for construction companies.
“For example, dump trucks convey materials (goods) for deposition and are excluded from CRC but the plant that compacts the deposited material should be included and yet will be fuelled from the same, usually bulk, source,“ the UKCG said.
“A tower crane moves ‘goods’ but is sometimes ‘fixed’ and included in the scheme and sometimes ‘mobile’ and excluded.
“A tunnel boring machine moves material (goods) and often incorporates a conveyor, which conveyor is therefore not ‘fixed’ and both would usually be supplied together with fixed plant and tunnel lighting by electricity directly from a sub-station. Is a temporary hoist used to transport persons and goods to the upper lifts of scaffold around buildings under construction ‘fixed’ or ‘not fixed’?
“A pump moves ‘goods’ but is itself static. All these share an energy/fuel source on a site – how is the energy to be apportioned between them?”
The UKCG said the scheme will be “so burdensome” to the 10 or 15 companies who will be affected, “and so unfair the imposition of competitive disadvantage as against their non-participating peer companies that it could warrant exclusion of the construction sector from the scheme altogether.”
An alternative might be to have special rules for certain kinds of contract, or to devise a separate scheme for the sector.