Russell Roof Tiles warns of impact of potential EU legislation changes

Mark Parsons Russell Roof Tiles 002 minRussell Roof Tiles warns of the disruption for the building and construction sector if the UK adopts the proposed changes outlined in the forthcoming European legislation.

Set for introduction in 2024, the proposed changes would impact the fixing requirements of UK manufactured roof tiles and slates, meaning costs would increase. This follows the fall-out from Brexit and Covid-19, including driver shortages, the fuel crisis, and global demand which exacerbated the price of raw materials.

Mark Parsons, technical director at Russell Roof Tiles, said: “Although Britain has now left the European Union (EU), there are still best practice standards we must adhere to wherever possible. Not only do they provide a common language for owners, operators, users, designers, contractors, and manufacturers, but they also build up trust across supply chains and remove technical impediments to ensure greater product interoperability.

“In the case of BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021, which relates to all aspects of the structural design and development of buildings, there are major implications for the calculated design wind loads acting on roof tiles, slates and their accessories. Under the proposals, the current definition for wind velocity calculations and the pressure it exerts on a structure would no longer be applicable in the UK and Ireland.

“Using the suggested alternative definition means there would be a significant increase in the number of fixings required for both roof tiles and accessories. In the worst-case scenario, some fixings may be deemed inadequate, causing specific tiles or product ranges to become obsolete.

The net effect of the proposed changes associated with the cost of additional fixings, increased labour and subsequent additional build time will make UK roofs far more costly to construct.”

The Roof Tile Association (RTA), the UK’s trade body which represents roof tile manufacturers of pitched roof solutions, is currently undertaking an analysis on the extent of the problem. As well as looking at how many more fixings might be required under the new definition, or whether the current fixings would be suitable, the RTA is also evaluating the impact on dry ridge / hip and verge systems.

Russell Roof Tiles’ own early assessments suggest load increases could vary from 30% to 160% across the different styles of mono pitch roofs, and most of their product ranges would be impacted. The firm believes the UK should resist adopting the BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021 changes because of the detrimental impact it will have on roofing contractors and roof-tile manufacturers across the country.

Parsons said: “Ever since the government announced the ‘build back better’ strategy following lockdown, there has been an incredible boom within the construction sector, with output rising significantly across all areas. The last thing it should therefore be doing is putting a spanner in the works elsewhere.

“This is about taking a pragmatic approach and understanding that if something is not broken, there is simply no need to try and fix it. UK roof tiles and fixings have performed safely and effectively since they were last assessed under BS.5534 seven years ago.

If Brexit is about revitalising British manufacturing, then we need to be allowed to focus on responding to market needs and ensuring our future sustainability; not factoring into already heavy workloads a brand-new product development programme driven entirely by the over-zealous application of bureaucratic EU requirements.”

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