British official says Grenfell tower cladding banned in the UK

Published: 19 June 2017 Image credit: Reuters

cladding

British Chancellor Phillip Hammond has told the BBC the reportedly cheap, flammable cladding fitted to London’s Grenfell tower is banned in the UK, as authorities continue to investigate whether it contributed to the speed and spread of Wednesday’s deadly blaze.

Flames were seen shooting up the sides of the building and quickly engulfing the entire 24-storey public housing high-rise, killing at least 58 people and leaving countless more missing.

Entire families remain unaccounted for, and authorities say the fire was so devastating their search operation may take weeks and the true death toll may never be known. Eighteen people remain in hospital.

As outrage over the blaze mounts, the British government has promised financial relief to surviving victims, and the launch of a public inquiry.  A criminal investigation is already underway.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, called the disaster a “preventable accident” caused by “years of neglect” by the local council.

In addition to the questions surrounding the building’s cladding – fitted to the high rise as part of a refurbishment project – the tower, built in the 1970s, also didn’t have a sprinkler system installed.

But the cladding has been subject to extreme scrutiny.

Talking to the BBC’s The Andrew Mar Show, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said he believed the cladding was already banned in the UK.

“My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here,” he said.

“So there are two separate questions. One, are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials? The second question is, were they correctly complied with?

“That will be a subject that the inquiry will look at. It will also be a subject that the criminal investigation will be looking at.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, authorities are calling for a nation-wide crackdown of the use of similar cladding.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was “extremely appropriate” for a nation-wide discussion about “laws to protect residents,” and the NSW government was making sure that “if there are any buildings at risk they’re dealt with as soon as possible.”

The government warns up to 2500 buildings in NSW alone may be fitted with similar flammable material.

But the company that installed the Grenfell cladding, Harley Facades Limited, said it was “not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.”