NEWS HIGHLIGHTS: Fears about hospital roofs and reusability of MMC materials questions
Ministers admit 34 hospital buildings in England have roofs that could collapse
A response to parliamentary question from Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, revealed that 34 hospital buildings in England have roofs made of concrete that is so unstable they could fall down at any time.
Maria Caulfield, a health minister, said surveys carried out by the NHS found that 34 buildings at 16 different health trusts contained reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). RAAC was widely used in building hospitals and schools in the 1960s, 70s and 80s but has a 30-year lifespan and is now causing serious problems.
Caulfield’s admission means more NHS facilities are at risk from RAAC than previously thought. Until now it was believed 13 trusts were affected, but the minister put that figure at 16. Her answer did not identify the 16 trusts concerned or indicate how many of the “34 buildings containing RAAC planks” were hospitals in which patients are treated.
MMC materials are less reusable as those used in traditional construction
The use of modern methods of construction (MMC) is making it much harder to reuse materials when a building is demolished, built environment experts have warned.
Building magazine revealed that Howard Button, chief executive of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), said composite materials used in MMC projects are “nowhere near as recoverable” as traditional materials found in older buildings s
Several industry groups have campaigned for more widespread reuse of materials such as steel and timber, a practice which is increasingly seen as an important way to reduce embodied carbon during the construction of demolish-and-rebuild projects.
Government considers extra help for cement, glass and steel manufacturers
A consultation has been launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on further support for energy-intensive industries, including cement, steel and glass manufacturers.
Among the options outlined in the consultation is the move by the government to allow businesses to be exempt from environmental and policy costs. The current exemption has cut those costs by 85 per cent, but the new consultation would raise this to 100 per cent.
“This reflects higher UK industrial electricity prices than those of other countries including in Europe, which could hamper investment, competition and commercial viability for hundreds of businesses,” according to BEIS,
Sectors identified as particularly at risk include steel, paper, glass, ceramics, and cement. The proposals are expected to help around 300 businesses and support 60,000 jobs.
The BEIS consultation comes as Sir Keir Starmer unveiled Labour proposals to halt rising energy bills. Average household energy bills are expected to rise by a further £1,800 per year from October as higher wholesale energy costs feed into domestic energy bills.
WORTH A LISTEN
Check out the Health & Safety Matters Podcast that features British Safety Council chair Peter McGettrick.
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