Construction, energy and engineering companies have lagged others in taking steps to protect themselves from the growing number of cyber-attacks, and failing to take preventive measures can lead to expensive litigation.
Limitations on the use of red diesel for the construction and engineering sectors UK.
Glasgow and COP26 resulted in various commitments from global economies to work towards targets in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The UK is to target the reduction of greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050.
However, even prior to COP26 there were already legislative changes afoot to have cleaner air. The Finance Bill 2021, and the associated secondary legislation, as part of the government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions, has the effect of restricting the usage of red diesel after April 2022.
What is red diesel? In short it is regular (white) diesel that is dyed to make it identifiable. Why? It is taxed at a much lower rate, making it almost 50 pence a litre cheaper than white diesel. That discount will end for those industry sectors that have used it, but are now restricted from its usage post April 2022.
Construction and manufacturing industries cannot use red diesel after April 2022. These are sectors that use the rebated red diesel. In the construction industry, site electricity generators along with heavy plant, machinery and heavy vehicles will all now be forced to run on white diesel to a much higher cost.
There is pressure on all industry sectors to adopt green measures. This is now increasingly becoming the norm, and is affecting virtually all businesses and sectors. By way of illustration, Lloyds Bank has announced that in relation to green homes, when looking at affordability there will less stringent stress testing.
The governments stated aim is to encourage businesses affected by the red diesel restrictions to use less fuel, or eventually to adopt greener alternatives. However, few in the construction industry would use more fuel than absolutely necessary, so in order to avoid cost inflation, there needs to be alternative options that the construction and engineering sectors must have.
So have we got the alternative technology to give viable options? For example, electric powered plant or cleaner fuels such as hydro treated vegetable oil. Is there scope for future use of Hydrogen power? As we have previously discussed in this blog, significant strides have been made in this area to date and there are a number of construction vehicle suppliers now providing a broad range of electrically-powered construction machinery. However, despite this, diesel power is still dominant in the sector and in some areas there are few, if any, alternatives available.
For the construction, engineering and energy sectors, the following points arise for consideration and debate:
- Super inflation in the construction, engineering and energy sectors is a massive issue in the UK, and indeed in other parts of the world. Rising supply costs and increased energy prices have dogged the industry in 2021. This loss of rebate is likely to result in yet further increases to site and project costs. In turn this is likely to increase the pressure on the bottom lines of many companies in the sector, and is in turn likely to mean more expensive houses, hospitals, schools, road projects and so on. This is a pertinent issue in the UK in particular, given the shortage of affordable housing and the current issues surrounding the state of disrepair of some of the housing stock in inner cities.
- Against this, the government is not forecasting significant macroeconomic benefits in terms of increased tax revenue – meaning that a government already short of cash thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic will likely have to pay more for its construction projects, with no substantive additional money coming in against which to offset that cost.
- Concrete processing plants will be affected by steep cost rises. To state the obvious, concrete is a key ingredient on any construction project, and is the most widely used material in the world!
- It is being reported that in Northern Ireland the cost to construction businesses could be as much as £25M per year.
- Plant and machinery that is no longer eligible to use red diesel must be drained, flushed and cleaned. Furthermore, any usage outside the permitted circumstances may result in confiscation of plant and machinery. In practice this may create a significant administrative burden on companies in the short term.
- Whilst the industry accepts the need to embrace green practices to strive towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050, some argue that the changes being implemented are possibly too soon, and before alternative fuels and/or technologies are in place.
- Have we actually got readily available alternative green options? At present, is the only viable option arguably to switch to white diesel only, and if so, does that really reduce the carbon emissions from the usage of red diesel? In reality the answer is no, unless a cleaner source of fuel is available. This in turn leads to a need for potential machinery modifications to accommodate such fuels. Additionally, problems may grow for plant hirers when machinery is hired consecutively by unaffected and then effected industries. Plant and machinery in the construction industry, often represent considerable assets of a business. If the idea is that these will become obsolete, this will present further problems for the sector.
- The government’s thought process, on the other hand, appears to be that necessity is the mother of invention, and increasing fuel costs will drive down emissions created by the construction industry.
- Those in the industry cannot be expected to absorb these costs, and the inevitable effect will be that these additional costs of running plant machinery, concrete manufacture and quarry operations, to name a few, will need to be passed onto the end users.
- As with all cost increases there will inevitably be considerable impacts on current projects. For contractors bound into contracts that prohibit price changes or increases for these matters, this change alongside the current price hyperinflation dogging the industry could prove fatal.
- Equally, increased fuel costs and price hyperinflation will increase the uncertainty around tendering for work. Prospective contractors will need to consider carefully the risks posed by these cost increases and how they are likely to be affected in the long term.
 Rail transport, agricultural, fishing and water freight, amateur sports clubs, golf courses, non-commercial power generation, traveling funfairs and circus.
 The Sunday Telegraph, 23 January 2022. This on basis that green homes are more efficient to run, and there will be lower outgoings.
 BBC News 24/01/2022-Red Diesel loss ‘could cost businesses millions’
Globally, notable incidents of freak weather events giving rise to destruction and death have dominated the news. The increasing frequency of these erratic climate events has undoubtedly raised awareness of global warming and, on a political level, the need for states to move quicker towards green energy and the reduction of carbon emissions. Global warming is an inescapable issue that affects us all and which has forced governments to elevate this to the top of the agenda, filtering down to economic policies that will touch upon most industry sectors.
On 31 October 2021, representatives from over 200 countries are set to descend on the Scottish city of Glasgow for the United Nations climate change conference; the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). During this global climate summit, world leaders are expected to talk all things climate change. Commitments have already been made to aggressively tackle global warming and the reduction of carbon emissions. Energy is therefore likely to be high on the agenda. Continue reading “Earth, Wind and Fire- Energy and the Green Agenda. The New Industrial Revolution?”
The contractual matrix of commercial construction projects commonly includes collateral warranties. Collateral warranties typically grant a contractual cause of action to third parties (such as tenants or end-users) with an interest in the project who may not otherwise have a contract in place with parties that are designing, constructing or providing professional advice on the project. For the beneficiary, a collateral warranty can therefore be invaluable.
Recently, for example, collateral warranties have proven to be extremely useful for long leaseholders and tenants in private residential developments where cladding and fire safety issues have been discovered. Where such a warranty exists, leaseholders (as the beneficiaries) have been able in some cases to rely upon collateral warranties as a means of recovering losses, or compelling the original contractors or designers to rectify those fire safety defects in circumstances where the leaseholder was not involved in the original construction of the development.
Cairn Energy’s dispute with the Indian Government has made headlines across the globe. The case serves as a useful reminder to foreign investors of the benefits of using bilateral investment treaties to obtain relief in circumstances where they have been unfairly treated by governments in foreign jurisdictions.
The origins of this dispute lie in a separate, but similar case between Vodafone and the Indian Government, arising out of Vodafone’s purchase of a majority share of a company, Hutchison Whampoa, in 2007. Hutchison owned substantial assets in India, and the Indian Government contended that Vodafone owed capital gains and withholding tax, based on India’s 1961 Income Tax Act. Vodafone disputed the Government’s interpretation of the Act. Continue reading “Cairn Energy v India: A lesson in BIT rights and enforcement”
By Steve Nichol
This sounds like a lot of money, but in real terms it is not anything like enough to restart the economy in the manner suggested by the Government. In the heady days before COVID-19, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced new investment into infrastructure in the UK totaling £600bn between now and 2025. By comparison, £5bn is nothing like what is required to “level up” the economy in the way promised by the Chancellor. In his Dudley address, the Prime Minister confirmed that the £5bn promised was an accelerated release of those funds promised by the Chancellor, but it remains to be seen whether that £600bn will ultimately be released. Continue reading “The Prime Minister’s New Deal: Invest More and Invest Quickly”