Combustibles ban should not come with exemptions

Government proposals to ban all combustible material in the external walls of buildings over 11 metres will protect lives and should not come with exemptions for any materials, says Chris Leese, director of MPA UK Concrete.

Responding to the Government’s review of the ban on the use of combustible materials, MPA UK Concrete, the group representing the concrete industry, has called on policymakers to avoid exemptions and concessions for further fire tests on combustible materials that have been proven to burn as a result of fires in multi-occupancy buildings.

Leese commented: “While legislation continues to allow for potentially combustible materials for buildings where many people – including the vulnerable – sleep, any U-turn would mean that the UK is continuing to knowingly build more and unnecessary risk into the heart of our built environment.

“Last minute calls for Government to fund costly research into the fire performance of some materials would simply leave fire performance to chance. Public safety is critical, and if further testing is required of materials like cross laminated timber there is already too much doubt about its ability to protect people.”

In its response to Government, MPA UK Concrete has stated that a ban on combustibles would not restrict designers from making sustainable material choices. Leese added: “A ban on all combustible materials in construction would not jeopardise the Government’s ability to meet its commitment to reach net zero
carbon by 2050. It is vital therefore that the debate on fire protection is informed by the facts, and not misperceptions about the carbon performance of concrete.

“Concrete and concrete products can be part of a net zero society, and are being used to construct buildings that have a low environmental impact due to better whole life performance through superior energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements over their long lifetimes. The concrete and cement industry has demonstrated that it can decarbonise and it will continue to support Government to meet the net zero target.”

Chris Leese, UK Concrete Director

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