The outcome of a review into combustible plastics and construction must be used to quickly update the law, says one expert.
By Gerard Tubb, Sky News Correspondent, and Nick Stylianou, Sky News Producer
A leading manufacturer of building cladding systems says he fears the Government will drag its heels over recommendations from the Hackitt review of fire safety launched after the Grenfell tragedy.
Dame Judith Hackitt, a former chair of the Health and Safety Executive, will be questioned by MPs later on the progress of her review of building regulations, which will include an examination of combustible plastics used in construction.
Plastic foam insulation fitted to Grenfell Tower to meet energy saving targets, along with decorative panels with a polyethylene (PE) core, have been blamed for the rapid spread of the fire which killed 71 people in June.
The cladding industry trade group MRCMA is calling for PE-filled panels to be banned from all new building and refurbishment projects and says no plastic insulation should be fitted to the outside of any building over 12 metres high until its concerns over the reliability of official fire tests are addressed.
But MRCMA spokesman Jonathan Evans, managing director of Midlands-based cladding manufacturer Ash and Lacy, is concerned that rules to make people safer might not be changed quickly.
“The past 20 years have shown that we have a (government) and people that don’t listen to recommendations, they don’t implement changes that are necessary to drive forward safety standards in buildings,” he said.
“The real problem that this inquiry is going to have is that its remit was to produce recommendations but recommendations themselves don’t enact change.
“What I’m really keen to see is how is the Government is going to ensure that recommendations this time finally make their way into changes in legislation.”
In November, Sky News revealed that energy-saving rules for buildings were drawn up in conjunction with the the plastic insulation industry, while some scientists and firms have been threatened with legal action for raising fire safety concerns.
Sky News documentary Britain’s Fire Safety Crisis showed that sales of the type of plastic foam insulation used on the outside of buildings doubled between 2011 and 2016 but successive governments failed to act on repeated warnings since the 1990s that fire safety regulations were inadequate to cope.
Dame Judith Hackitt will publish her final report in spring 2018 but the Government has stopped short of a commitment to implement any recommendations, saying it will provide a written response.