Last edited 30 May 2024

Building safety in Scotland


[edit] The context of events for Scotland

The independent review of fire safety and building regulations in relation to high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) in England was announced in July 2017, following the infamous and tragic Grenfell Tower fire and led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The fire on the 14th June 2017 led to seventy-two people tragically loosing their lives, over seventy people injured with immense suffering and loss. It was the deadliest fire in the UK since 1988 and the worst UK residential fire since World War II and was to lead to to significant changes in the UK construction industry in the years to follow.

In June 2017 a Scottish ministerial working group on building and fire safety was set up to oversee reviews of building and fire safety frameworks, regulations and guidance, and any other relevant matters, initially with a focus on high rise domestic buildings,. With a remit to help ensure that people are safe in Scotland's buildings it also considered other buildings including housing, the NHS estate and schools.

In December 2017 a building fire at Cameron House Hotel claimed the lives of two occupants due to smoke and fire gas exposure. An independent Crown Office review concluded that a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) should be held into the deaths, and multi-agency investigation led to prosecutions of the hotel and an individual.

[edit] The Building Safety Act in Scotland

The interim report of December 2017 investigating into the causes of the Grenfell fire, called for a 'universal shift in culture’ and the final report, ‘Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety’ was published in May 2018. The final Hackitt report was damming and called for a complete over hal of construction industry practices.

A Scottish expert panel (established via the ministerial working group) published consolidated advice in January 2020, by March the Scottish Ministers had agreed to set up a Technical Working Group to develop advice notes to determine the fire risk posed by external wall systems in existing multi-storey residential buildings.

In July of 2020 a draft Building Safety Bill was announced in the British Parliament, it received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. The last Scottish Technical Working Group advice note was published in December 2022: Scottish Advice Note: Determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems in existing multi-storey residential buildings (Version 2.0). Following the independent Crown Office review and Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the original deaths at the Cameron House Hotel fire the final report was issued in January 2023.

The Building Safety Act 2022 came into force on 1 April 2023. The Act predominantly applied to England and Wales, with limited applications in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Essentially two parts, albeit quite significant parts of the Building Safety Act 2022 applied to Scotland.

[edit] The Housing (Cladding Remediation) (Scotland) Bill 2023

In November 2023, the Housing (Cladding Remediation) (Scotland) Bill 2023 was introduced to the Scottish Parliament, it aims to mitigate and ideally eliminate risks to human life presented by the external wall cladding systems. It proposes a number of items:

The Cladding Remediation Bill was unanimously approved to legislation on May 14, 2024 giving Scottish Ministers powers to assess and remediate buildings which have unsafe cladding, where consent of the owners cannot be provided. It thus gives powers to establish the Cladding Assurance Register (CAR) as well as the Responsible Developers Scheme (RDS)

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said of the approvals: “This is a landmark moment in our efforts to make buildings safer and to safeguard homeowners and residents in buildings identified through the remediation programme as having unsafe cladding. The unanimous passing of this legislation will allow us to accelerate our work by addressing barriers to assessment and remediation and give homeowners and residents confidence in work carried out. The public commitments already made by many of Scotland’s developers to identify, assess and remediate their buildings mean public money can be focused on buildings without a linked developer.”

The Scottish Parliament notes that the Housing (Cladding Remediation) (Scotland) Bill, which passed on May 14, 2024 'is being introduced to reduce the risk to life from unsafe cladding on people’s homes. The Bill gives powers to Scottish Ministers to assess and remediate certain types of buildings with unsafe cladding. Scottish Ministers will need to record these assessments and any remediation works completed in a register. Remediate means to take action towards fixing problems. The Bill also allows Scottish Ministers to create a responsible developers scheme.'

[edit] The Building (Scotland) Act 2003. The Building standards enforcement and sanctions consultation

The Building (Scotland) Act of the Scottish Parliament 2003 is aimed to make further provision with respect to buildings, building standards, work in relation to buildings and related matters; and for connected purposes. Following the Grenfell and Cameron House Hotel disasters, proposals were made to strengthening the existing enforcement powers used by local authorities, as well as increasing penalties associated with offences under the Act. Thus bringing the position of Scotland more in line with that of England and Wales, with the introduction of the BSA, accompanying stronger sanctions for breaches.

The Building standards enforcement and sanctions: consultation was set-up to gauge reaction to these changes it opened in October 2023 and closed in January 2024. The proposed changes to the act include:

[edit] The Building Scotland (Amendment) Regulations 2022

The Building Scotland (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 1 June 2022 and amend regulations and standards on fire safety. Changes to the regulations, standards and supporting guidance relating to external wall systems were published on 6 May 2022.

Key changes to legislation with regard to the fire safety of external wall systems are:

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