Business Brexit

Monday 24 October 2016

Brexit threat puts crucial housing plan 'in jeopardy'

Operational risk means builders will be less likely to invest in Ireland

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

FLASHBACK: Story in Sunday Independent two weeks ago
FLASHBACK: Story in Sunday Independent two weeks ago

The Government's make-or-break housing plan is under threat from Britain's decision to leave the European Union, according to a briefing document compiled by Department of Housing officials.

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A risk assessment drafted by senior government officials in the wake of the Brexit vote warns that UK construction companies will be less likely to invest in Ireland once Britain leaves the EU single market.

The document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act says this could "limit upscaling construction activity" in Ireland.

The report says this is a "low operational risk" at present but there could be a "more significant strategic issue" in the medium term as the Government seeks to resolve the housing crisis.

The Sunday Independent previously revealed how the same risk assessment highlighted Government fears over the impact Brexit will have on Ireland's nuclear power agreements with the UK.

Officials also warned that the cost of construction material sourced from the UK may rise after Britain leaves the EU

"While the availability of UK products and services is unlikely to be an issue in the future, a question now arises over the cost of those products and services and the impact of possible cost increases on the housing sector," the reports states.

Fianna Fail's housing spokesman Barry Cowen said the issue needs to be monitored "very closely".

"It was felt that a lot of investment in Irish property was being funded by UK- based pension funds," Mr Cowen said.

"Much of said funding is now obviously at risk due to Brexit and lack of finance and cost of such finance could impinge progress," he added.

A spokesman for Housing Minister Simon Coveney said any risk from Brexit to the Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness is "extremely low at this point".

"Brexit is, at least, a further two years away which will enable all stakeholders in the housing market to put in place mitigation strategies as the negotiations progress and post Brexit arrangements become clearer," he said.

The briefing document also warns environmental assessments and mandatory consultation processes "may prove more difficult" to enforce when Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

Ireland has bilateral agreements with Britain which entitle the government to information on the UK's nuclear programme.

The UK will no longer be tied down by strict EU laws which underpin these.

Sunday Independent

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