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Industry calls for longer Eurocodes transition period

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Government has conceded that the proposed overlap period between introducing Eurocodes and withdrawing British Standards can be extended if there is wide enough support. The steel sector has consequently called for an extension from the original two years to at least five years.

At present, the Eurocodes will be available for practical use early in 2008 and the current timetable envisages all British Standards for structural design being withdrawn from the Building Regulations in March 2010.

The BCSA, Corus and SCI are all backing a longer period in order to ensure a safer transition. Dr Derek Tordoff, BCSA Director General, said: “There would be a real risk of mistakes and potentially accidents across construction if the transition was rushed through at a pace which the industry couldn’t cope with.”

“There are 100,000 design engineers and building control officers in the UK, retraining all of these people in two years would be an extremely tall order,” added Dr Tordoff.

Much effort has already been put into getting the steel sector ready for the impending Eurocodes by way of handbooks, design guides and training courses.

Corus General Manager Alan Todd said: “We’re making every effort to ensure the steel industry is ready for the changeover and everything will be in place by 2010. However, it would be more appropriate and beneficial, for the construction industry as a whole, to have a longer transitional period.”

The steel industry has a twin policy for Eurocode implementation. Firstly, that all preparations are in place, such as design guidance and training, and secondly that British Standards are kept as long as possible.

“Putting a timescale on how long the British Standards should be kept that this stage is unrealistic,” added Dr Tordoff. “Progress on the adoption of the Eurocodes should be continually assessed and then the appropriate time for withdrawal of the British Standards can be decided.”

Readers who wish to endorse the need for a safe and orderly transition period of at least five years should write to: Angela Smith MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Communities and Local Government, 26 Whitehall, London SW1A 2WH.

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