In an earlier update, I offered a Scottish perspective on the UK Government’s Building Safety Act 2022, which included reference to new statutory liabilities created by that Act in connection with cladding and construction products.
I stressed at the time that, in considering building safety matters after the Grenfell disaster, Scotland started from a different position from that which existed in England and Wales and that the Scottish Government has ‘ploughed its own furrow’ in building safety matters post-Grenfell. One aspect of that can be seen in the very important recent amendments to the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (‘the Regulations’) effective from 1 June 2022.
The Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 provide that, subject to certain specified and limited exceptions, work must be carried out so that the materials which form part of an external wall cladding system or specified attachment of a relevant building meet a prescribed fire classification for construction products and building elements. A specified attachment means a balcony, a solar shading or a solar panel.
The amendments to the Regulations effectively ban the use of combustible cladding in relevant buildings which are those having a storey (or creating a storey) at a height of 11 metres or more above the ground and contain:
- a dwelling;
- a building used as a place of assembly or as a place of entertainment or recreation;
- a hospital;
- a residential care building or sheltered housing complex; or
- a shared multi-occupancy residential building.
A new Regulation 8(5) provides expressly that relevant work ‘...must be carried out so that an external wall cladding system or internal lining does not comprise of highly combustible metal composite material’ as such material is defined in a new Regulation 8(6).
The changes to the Regulations amend the existing regime in Scotland which, since 2005, has included a legal requirement to use, in certain circumstances, non-combustible materials or those which had passed certain types of fire tests. In a post-Grenfell world, and after a lengthy process of public and technical consultation, the new provisions enacted by the Scottish Parliament go further and are clearly aimed at making relevant buildings even safer.