18-metre cladding threshold ‘completely arbitrary’, MP warns

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The 18-metre threshold utilized to prohibition the usage of flammable materials connected high-rise buildings is “completely arbitrary” and driven by nationalist fear, a Conservative MP has warned.

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the authorities changed occurrence and gathering rules to prohibit the usage of combustible materials connected the outer walls of high-rise residential buildings supra 18 metres, deemed high-risk.

Construction firms and spot owners person scrambled to transportation retired remediation work, with the regularisation changes intended to guarantee disasters tin beryllium avoided successful the future.

But Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has argued that the 18-metre threshold is wholly random arsenic helium accused the authorities of making rules that are led by “public preoccupation” alternatively than “real assessments”.

Jenkin, who was speaking during a statement connected the 5th day of the disaster, which killed 72 people, argued that those surviving successful low-rise structures were astatine greater hazard from fire, adding that immoderate remediation enactment whitethorn person been carried retired unnecessarily.

He said: “The 18-metre bounds is simply a wholly arbitrary distinction.

“Far much radical dice successful fires successful low-rise buildings, peculiarly homes of aggregate occupation, than dice successful high-rise buildings and the 18-metre bounds is simply a media-driven preoccupation. I could adjacent accidental that the preoccupation with cladding is simply a media-driven preoccupation.

“This full thrust has been driven by nationalist pressure, not by existent hazard appraisal and that is what we needed.”

Jenkin besides pointed retired that immoderate remediation enactment carried retired connected buildings higher than 18 metres successful the nonstop aftermath of the catastrophe whitethorn person been unnecessary.

The MP for Harwich and North Essex said: “I warrant that successful the panic to designate definite buildings unsafe due to the fact that of their cladding, a immense magnitude of cladding was removed astatine immense expense, which was astir apt unnecessary to region due to the fact that […] it was a broad categorisation of cladding and height.”

Government guidance connected caller gathering regulations authorities that the 18-metre threshold was due to the fact that of the higher hazard to aggregate households successful buildings supra that height.

It says: “Our attack prioritises enactment connected buildings [of] 18 metres and above, due to the fact that the hazard to aggregate households is greater erstwhile occurrence does dispersed successful buildings of this height.”

The guidance adds that the authorities has taken enactment to support each residents, including “reducing the tallness threshold for requiring sprinkler systems successful caller residential buildings”.

Jenkin besides called for a full betterment of gathering control, which includes forming a new, autarkic gathering information probe body. He said an autarkic assemblage should beryllium established to analyse failings that was not the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“Investigations by the regulator tin crook retired to beryllium conflicted, due to the fact that the origin of the nonaccomplishment mightiness beryllium a nonaccomplishment of the HSE oversight and their regularisation [...] HSE and the caller gathering information regulator, which is portion of HSE, should beryllium precluded from immoderate anticipation of having to analyse itself, due to the fact that it is inherently conflicted.”

The Building Safety Act, which became instrumentality successful April, straight sets up the caller Building Safety Regulator (BSR). It volition oversee information connected buildings defined arsenic “high-risk”, enactment to summation the competence of gathering professionals and person building-safety oversight. The BSR is headed by Peter Baker.