Longford Senator calls for extension to existing planning permissions to be put in place

Construction industry must re-open or contractors will fold under financial pressure

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Longford Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy has called for an extension to existing planning permissions to be put in place owing to the impact that Covid-19 restrictions are having on the construction industry.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Carrigy said “I raise the issue of the extension of existing planning permission for the length of time that construction industry has been closed. 

"I know a number of one-off sites and indeed developments that are coming close to the end of their existing 5 year or indeed their 10 year permission where they received their extension. 

"Construction has been closed for nearly 5 months and rather than these people having to re-apply and incur the expense and delay of this I feel and extension should be given especially in the current climate.”

Meanwhile,  Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice says Government must re-open the construction industry or contractors, particularly subcontractors, will fold under financial pressures

Commenting on the matter, the representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency outlined: “The construction industry is under particular pressure given the lengthy lockdowns experienced as a result of Covid-19 over the past year. 

“Those who are currently not working as a result of the restrictions are under significant financial pressures. Many of them, particularly subcontractors, have repayments to make on machinery needed to carry out their work.

“They are not able to avail of moratoriums on payments and the financial reserves they had available to them prior to Covid-19 are all but exhausted.

“If these contractors are expected to continue indefinitely without certainty of when they will be able to return to work, then many of them may be faced with only one option – to close up shop completely. 

“This would mean the loss of jobs as well as reduced capacity to carry out construction work when the lockdown is finally lifted – at a time when the Government is trying to ramp up house building. As well as that, if there is a reduced number of firms to do the work, then the cost of the work will inevitably increase due to reduced levels of competition. 

“I am backing calls made by industry representative bodies for the Government – and the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien – to re-open first phase construction works at the earliest opportunity. 

“Contractors had hoped to be back earning a living on March 5th; they cannot be expected to continue beyond that for a further 6 weeks or so. 

“If first phase construction was allowed to re-open, then groundworks could be carried out outside with the help of plant machinery and social distancing rules could be adhered to.

“This would then allow contractors to make their financial repayments.

“As it stands, social housing projects are able to continue once Covid guidelines are followed. If the same guidelines can be followed in the private sector and people can work safely, then there is no reason the Government cannot grant a phased reopening of the construction sector,” he concluded.