Organisers of the National Insulation Industry Awards say sponsors withdrew from the event following Sky News revelations.
By Gerard Tubb, Sky News Correspondent and Nick Stylianou, Sky News Producer
A prestigious awards ceremony for the £890m building insulation industry has been cancelled following a Sky News investigation into lobbying and fire safety.
The organisers of the National Insulation Industry Awards, due to be held on Thursday night, say sponsors withdrew from the event following the Sky News revelations.
The awards were to have been judged by Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Deben and Simon Storer, the CEO of industry lobby group the Insulation Manufacturers Association.
A letter sent to attendees by event organisers M4 Publishing & Events, seen by Sky News, says they were contacted two weeks ago that the main sponsor, BRE BREEAM, “inform(ed) us that they could no longer align with the event, citing freedom of information requests from manufacturers, conflict of interest and the avoidance of alignment with any specific manufacturer of insulation”.
BRE BREEAM is part of the BRE Group, formerly the Buildings Research Establishment, who also operate the Government’s fire safety advisers.
Following the title sponsor’s exit, the main financial backers of the event withdrew, taking the view that “if an organisation with the stature of (BRE BREEAM) was withdrawing, there must for some reason be an underlying issue within the industry”.
The Chief Executive of BRE, Peter Bonfield, is also on the Government’s Independent Building Safety Advisory Panel with fellow director Sir Ken Knight.
Following the Sky News documentary, Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, called for BRE to be re-nationalised.
“Bring BRE back into public ownership and accountability. Fire respect should not be influenced by profit,” he tweeted.
The letter goes on to say: “Yesterday, Sky News reported on various industry issues in regard to fire safety and industry lobbying, as a result of this report and its contents we have not been able to secure the emergency funding we were offered… the event is not commercially viable and is cancelled with immediate effect.”
Sky News revealed that elements of the plastics industry were not only helping to write the rules that require more insulation to be fitted to buildings, but were also trying to silence people who questioned whether plastic insulation was safe.
The main lobby group for the plastic insulation trade was, until November 2017, called the British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers’ Association (BRUFMA).
Partly in response to Grenfell Tower – or what it refers to as “events of this year” – BRUFMA changed its name to the Insulation Manufacturers Association.
They advertise that they are “influencing UK and local government, specifying authorities, relevant approval and certification bodies,” and have “high level involvement in the drafting and regular revision of British and European standards (and) the Building Regulations.”
Its members are promised the “opportunity to influence Government bodies and NGOs” and “direct input into relevant British Standards committees”.
Reacting to the Sky News documentary Grenfell: Britain’s Fire Safety Crisis, David Lammy MP told Sky News that the findings were “hugely worrying” and said that he expected the report “to be critical to the (Grenfell) public inquiry”.