The admission emerged after it was revealed that Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey had not been included in the contract covering the new gas installer registration scheme.
The contract, awarded to Capita, only covered England, Scotland and Wales. Corgi is the current scheme provider for the four regions.
Explaining why Northern Ireland had not been included in the Great Britain scheme, an HSENI spokesman said: “Despite having similar gas safety regulations, NI falls within a different legislative jurisdiction and enforcement regime. Therefore, it is important that all options are considered which take into account the NI situation.”
Asked whether Corgi would continue to operate the scheme after April or whether the scheme would be put out to competition, the spokesman said: “At this time no decision has been taken.
HSENI will make its decision based on local needs and will take into account both the GB arrangements and local consultation. HSENI is now considering the details of the GB scheme and will consider options, with the aim of deciding on the best fit for Northern Ireland.
“HSENI expects to develop firm proposals for the running of a gas installers’ registration scheme before Christmas. In the course of this HSENI may enter into dialogue with the various trade associations involved.”
The Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (Snipef) welcomed the possibility that the NI scheme could operate in tandem with the GB scheme since it had been “deeply concerned to learn that the gas safety registration arrangements in GB did not yet apply to Northern Ireland”.
Robert Burgon, Snipef director and secretary, said: “Although we understand there is a separate responsibility for health and safety matters in Northern Ireland, in our view it is entirely logical and appropriate that wherever possible the arrangements in Northern Ireland mirror those in the rest of the UK.
“We think it is particularly important that contractors in Northern Ireland are not prejudiced by the failure to adopt the more proportionate gas safety arrangements that have been agreed for GB with the appointment of a new provider, nor by the adoption of a new gas safety branding and arrangements which seeks to redress many of the failings of the present Corgi system. We are hoping for an early resolution to the confusion.”
Bob Towse, HVCA head of technical and safety said: “We have members who are based in the UK and who work in NI, and NI members who want to work on the mainland. If this is not sorted out after April 1st, they will have to become part of both schemes and this means that they could end up paying twice. This is a trading issue for those involved.
Allan Vickers, secretary of the Association for Registered Gas Installers, said: “We are pleased to know we installers in Northern Ireland could have the same opportunity as the rest of UK.
'I have the feeling this is the result of an almighty cock-up. HSENI has said it has taken no decision regarding the situation after April 2009 and the Minister has informed me that HSENI is conducting a study to determine the best way forward.
'The cynic in me wonders whether this will this be completed in time. Has HSENI talked to Capita yet? Will they talk to NI Installers? Is the tender for Southern Ireland going to have any bearing on the decision? Many questions remain to be answered.”