Civil engineers have warned of at least two years of uncertainty after the UK triggered Article 50 to begin its exit from the EU.
At lunchtime on Wednesday (29 March), Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels, handed a letter from prime minister Theresa May to European Council president Donald Tusk.
Two years of negotiations over the terms of Britain’s departure will now follow.
Patrick Flaherty, AECOM chief executive – UK & Ireland
Patrick Flaherty, chief executive – UK & Ireland at AECOM, said: ‘Now that Article 50 has been triggered, industry still faces a minimum of two years of continued uncertainty, particularly around issues such as labour availability and construction material costs.
‘Focus must remain on progressing the UK’s ambitious infrastructure pipeline to give confidence to the market in the intervening period. The delivery of large-scale domestic schemes such as HS2, Crossrail 2, a third runway at Heathrow and the Northern Powerhouse programme are critical to the country’s ability to compete on a global stage.’
He added: ‘AECOM employs a large number of international citizens across its UK operations. Safeguarding the rights of EU nationals already in the UK to remain here is important for the wellbeing of our employees, the future success of AECOM and the prosperity of the wider built environment sector.’
Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: ‘There is a substantial pipeline of projects that will be delivered both during and after the process of Brexit. If these schemes are to be delivered as planned, we must ensure the workforce is suitably skilled, so that employers can find the right people for the job.
‘The provision of infrastructure is a proven driver of growth in the economy. As Britain looks towards our future outside the EU, we must ensure we both upskill the existing workforce, and attract new entrants to the industry.’
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton
Campaigners ClientEarth pledged to work 'to make sure environment laws remain strong after Brexit'.
CEO James Thornton said: ‘We must get the best deal from the EU because a poor Brexit deal would be catastrophic for the environment.’
He added: ‘The UK needs to work closely with Europe to find new ways to co-operate on international climate change, air quality, fisheries, and all of our common resources, because air pollution, fish, birds and other wildlife don’t respect national boundaries.’