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Written Statement - Grenfell Tower Update – Large-Scale Tests 5 to 7

Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children

This statement updates members on circumstances following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The series of whole-system tests undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has now been concluded, with the 5th, 6th and 7th test results reported on 14th, 25th and 21st August, respectively.

The 5th and 6th tests, of aluminium composite material (ACM) with a limited combustibility filler (category 1) combined with foam and stone wool insulations respectively, both passed the tests. These combinations of materials adequately resisted the spread of fire to the standard required by the current Building Regulations guidance.

The 7th test was undertaken on ACM comprising a fire-retardant polyethylene filler (category 2) with phenolic foam insulation. This wall system failed the test, meaning that it did not adequately resist the spread of fire to the standard required by the current Building Regulations guidance.

To date, no high-rise buildings with ACM/insulation combinations corresponding to these tests have been identified in Wales.

We have established that no high-rise buildings in the public estate across education, universities and health, have ACM cladding. Our focus is now on identifying and working with the owners and/or managing agents of private sector high-rise residential accommodation. Our aim is to ensure that any high-rise residential building with ACM is identified and samples sent for screening to establish which category ACM is present.

It is, of course, a matter for building owners to take the appropriate steps to ensure their buildings meet required standards and that residents are safe. However, I can assure colleagues that Welsh Government continues to take a pro-active role. We are working with local government and other partners to ensure building owners have the latest information, take all reasonable steps to ensure resident safety and that, in the longer term, they undertake any necessary remedial work.

Finally, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, who has responsibility for Welsh Building Regulations, has been in correspondence with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The Cabinet Secretary asked for appropriate Welsh Government engagement in the UK government initiated independent review of building regulations and sought assurances about the effective linking of common interests. The Secretary of State has responded offering the Cabinet Secretary and the Welsh Fire Safety Advisory Group an introductory discussion with the chair of the independent review.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.