From April 1 2009 there will be two gas installer registration schemes and two gas safety brands in operation in the UK, H&V News has learned.
The information came to light after this magazine was informed that Corgi-registered heating engineers in Northern Ireland were up in arms over changes to the gas installer registration scheme.
Northern Ireland, along with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, which form a federacy with the UK, had not been included in the registration contract covering England, Scotland and Wales, even though their respective registration schemes are operated by Corgi.
Allan Vickers, secretary of the Association of Registered Gas Installers, said: “Installers were under the impression that the tender was UK-wide. There was nothing written down in the draft tender specification document to suggest that the new registrar would be restricted only to Great Britain.
“This could have been an oversight on the Health and Safety Executive’s part or it could have been intentional. No really knows at this stage.”
The Health and Safety Executive denied that the omission was an oversight. A spokesman said: “It was entirely clear from the outset of the competition that this related only to Great Britain. HSE has no responsibility for health and safety or gas safety outside GB.”
Mr Vickers added: “NI installers have been very concerned about the additional costs that they would have to incur regarding the changes to their logos once the new registrar takes over.”
According to Corgi there will be two gas safety brands in operation after March 31 2009 – the old Corgi brand and the new HSE brand being developed by Capita.
“It is important to note that from next April, UK gas schemes will be different for the first time; a new gas safety brand will be introduced in GB while Corgi will continue to represent competent gas installers in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey,” a Corgi spokesperson said.
There is additional concern that with two registrars in place there next year, this could also lead to two different gas safety standards being in operation in addition to two sets of registration fees and rogue installer enforcement polices.
A Corgi spokesman said: “It is our understanding that the competencies required for registration for the GB scheme will be reviewed during 2009. If changes are made as a result, it will be the decision for the other governments whether they are implemented in their regions.
He added: “Changes to the enforcement powers are one example of how the new GB scheme will differ from schemes elsewhere.”
The new gas installer registration arrangements are of such concern in Northern Ireland that H&V News understands that questions have already been asked in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
A HSENI spokesman said: “HSENI has been observing the process and is conducting an option study to determine the ‘best fit’ arrangement for Northern Ireland.”
The HSE said it was now up to the responsible authorities concerned whether they wished their respective schemes to remain with Corgi after April 2009, or whether they wished to put the contracts out to tender.