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Construction Update: Non-essential Construction to Close – What Does this Mean for You?

15 January 2021

The Irish Government published new regulations on 7 January 2021 which required all construction works to cease from 6pm on Friday 8 January 2021 until at least the end of January, save for limited exceptions. The Regulations set out the limited type of projects that will be permitted to continue operations during the current Level 5 restrictions and we have received further helpful clarity from department officials on certain restrictions that we outline below.

The Regulations and the list of exemptions can be found here

Construction

The Regulations provide that developments designated as essential projects and limited construction works near completion are permitted to continue.

The following have been designated as essential construction projects:

  • The construction of essential health and related projects, including  those  relevant to combat COVID-19

  • The construction of essential educational facilities at primary and post-primary level including providing additional capacity for students

  • Certain essential projects relating to the construction at Technological University Dublin Campus Grangegorman

  • The construction of social housing including where a transfer of ownership or lease has been agreed between an approved housing body and a developer, and is scheduled to be completed by 28 February 2021. Note: The local authority or approved housing body must also confirm that the completion of the project is necessary to:

    • Alleviate homelessness, required as emergency accommodation or to combat Covid-19, or

    • The project is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

  • Essential works on vacant residential properties under the control of a local authority  or an approved housing body necessary for the purposes of the social housing waiting list, and are scheduled for completion by 28 February 2021

  • Works  relating to a housing  adaptation  grant  paid  under the  Housing  (Adaptation  Grants for  Older  People  and  People  with a   Disability) Regulations   2007 with homeowner consent

  • Construction funded  by  the  pyrite  remediation scheme due to be completed by 31 January 2021, and is essential to combat the pandemic

  • The repair, maintenance and construction of critical transport and utility infrastructure

  • The supply of electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services on an emergency call-out basis

  • Housing construction and completion works ongoing on 8 January 2021, and are scheduled to be completed by 31 January 2021 to render the home capable of occupation by that date

  • Construction and development projects necessary for the maintenance of supply chains for services including:

    • The refining of alumina, the manufacture of chemicals, pharmaceutical products computers, electronics, machinery, medical and health devices and products, and the manufacture of products necessary for essential services and for national and international supply chains. This excludes general purpose facilities such as office accommodation and car parks

    • The provision of services necessary to deliver and support electronic communications services, networks and  associated  facilities, and

    • The provision of data centre services and related services

Electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste management

The Government also announced on 6 January that certain services involving electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste management will also be permitted to remain open. These include:

  • The generation, transmission, supply and distribution of electric power

  • The extraction and distribution of gas and decommissioning activities in relation to offshore gas filed facilities

  • The supply and treatment of water and wastewater, and

  • Waste management activities

Part 2 (Essential Services) of the Schedule to S.I. 701/2020 has been retained and “the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment (including mechanically propelled vehicles, industrial machinery and equipment) for essential services” is still permitted.

As the generation, transmission, supply and distribution of electrical power remains an essential service under the Regulations and therefore is not restricted.

This position has been confirmed by the The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications which has clarified that the following works are permitted to continue:

  • All works on the electricity and natural gas transmission and distribution systems considered necessary by the relevant system operators

  • Power station maintenance considered necessary to ensure continued safe and secure supplies of electricity

  • Continued construction and connection of new electricity generation and grid-scale storage projects

Conclusion

The Regulations provide much needed clarity regarding what construction projects will be permitted to continue during the current Level 5 Restrictions. It is now clear that all developments must cease operations unless they fall under one of the limited criteria specified above.

It is important for all parties to review their construction contracts without delay to determine the contractual consequences of the latest changes and where relevant comply with any notice obligations. We remain available to answer any questions you may have on all related issues.

If you wish to discuss the impact of the Level 5 restrictions may have on your project, contact a member of our Construction, Infrastructure & Utilities team.


The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

Discuss your related queries now with Eoin Cassidy.


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