In the Guardian on Tuesday:
Two and a half years since Grenfell, it is a silent scandal how little has changed. The images of the cladding crackling and dripping from the Bolton student block is a shameful reminder that thousands of homes are still not safe. There have been eight significant residential fires since Grenfell. And today tens of thousands of people are still living in buildings wrapped in dangerous combustible materials. It’s on our homes, our hospitals, our care homes and our schools.
In a parliamentary question at Holyrood on Monday, David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour) asked the Scottish Government what plans it has to ban combustible materials on the outside of high-rise or high-risk buildings.
The answer was reassuring contrast to the lack of comparable action in England:
From 1 May 2005, Scottish building regulations have required cladding on domestic buildings with any storey over 18 metres to be non-combustible or to pass a large-scale fire test (BS 8414 and BR 135).
The Scottish Government have just completed a review of building regulations. Advice from the national and international panel of experts was that there was no need to change mandatory standard 2.7 that requires fire spread on the external walls of a building to be inhibited. Guidance that came into force on 1 October embraces a range of measures to improve fire safety which will make Scotland’s high-rise buildings even safer. These include:
• Further restricting the use of combustible materials on taller buildings, applying provisions that previously applied to buildings over 18 metres to all buildings over 11 metres to align with fire-fighting from the ground;
• Tighter controls over the combustibility of cladding systems on hospitals, residential care buildings, entertainment and assembly buildings regardless of building height;
• Introducing evacuation sound alerts, floor and dwelling indicator signs and two escape stairs in all new high-rise domestic buildings.
We have also made a commitment to introduce a mandatory requirement to install sprinkler systems in all new build flats, certain multi-occupancy dwellings and social housing from 2021.