27 July 2017
The Grenfell Tower fire has brought UK Fire Regulations into sharp focus. A BBC report today says that large scale tests on cladding materials have failed even in laboratory conditions (see here). The implications are staggering for both Government who wrote the regulations and designers who followed them. Root and branch changes are likely to follow the Grenfell inquiry.
Meanwhile in Ireland Minister Eoghan Murphy disappointed industry commentators when he confirmed his intention not to re-establish the Building Regulations Advisory Board (BRAB). This comes soon after it was revealed that his Department has refused publication of a long-awaited report into Millfield Manor Fire of March 2015 and a separate report with wide-ranging recommendations for improving fire safety in existing defective developments.
The Building Regulations Advisory Board was set up under Section 14 of the Building Control Act, 1990 to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations. More than 20 separate groups had a board presence including consumer bodies (list provided at end of post) and for twenty years it was an invaluable source of expertise to successive Ministers. The Board was not re-convened at the end of its 5 year term in 2012 under controversial circumstances (see post here). BRAB Board Member Denise Germaine said:
“…we examined in detail the Northern Ireland system as part of our research. This type of Local Authority operated Building Control system was the first choice of BRAB but we were advised by the DECLG officials that there was no point in recommending this to the Minister as it ‘was not going to happen’ in Ireland.
Since the previous Minister [Phil Hogan] brought BRAB to an end in 2012, there has been no such semi-autonomous advisory body, with members drawn from all sectors of the construction industry, to advise the Minister and the Department on matters pertaining to Building Regulations and Building Control.
This is to be deplored.”
Since May 2012 most of these organisations have no longer had any input into building control. The Department of Housing engage with just four key industry stakeholders- the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland (SCSI), Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI) and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI). Former Minister Phil Hogan’s BC(A)R SI.9 ‘reinforced self-certification’ amendments were subsequently introduced in 2014 and continue to receive widespread criticism by consumer groups and industry legal experts as adding little in the way of enhanced consumer protection.
Dáil exchange to follow (see link: Building Regulations: 12 Jul 2017):
Maureen O’Sullivan (Dublin Central, Independent)
466. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to set up a building regulations advisory authority to allow broader input from industry experts (details supplied) that wish to have input into the area of planning control; his views on whether this would be beneficial in improving an imperfect system. [33252/17]
Eoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
I understand the body referred to in the Deputy’s question is the Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB). Section 14 of the Building Control Act 1990 provides for the establishment, at the Minister’s discretion, of a BRAB to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations.
The term of office of the last BRAB expired on 1 October 2012. The members of that BRAB were appointed for a term of office of five years from 14 June 2007 to 13 June 2012. A temporary extension to 1 October 2012 was granted to the existing members in light of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations which were at an advanced stage of development at that time.
In accordance with Appendix IIb of the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan, published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in November 2011, the BRAB was listed as one of the forty six “Candidate Bodies for Critical Review by end June 2012”. The outcome of that review process was that the work of the BRAB was to be absorbed into my Department.
I have no plans to establish a new BRAB at this time.
(NOTE: An identical answer was give by Minister of State Damien English to a similar question by Barry Cowen TD in May 2017 – see Building Regulations: 12 Jul 2017 9 May 2017)
2012 Members of the BRAB as follows (see link here):
Mr. Jay Stuart, Chairperson, Integrated Sustainable Design Const.
Mr. Michael Brown, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
Mr. Brian McKeon, Construction Industry Federation.
Dr. Eugene Farrell, Home Bond.
Mr. Mark McAuley, Building Materials Federation.
Ms. Denise Germaine, Chartered Inst. of Architectural Technologists.
Mr. Gerard Grogan, Tánaiste’s nomimee
Mr. Jim Keogh, Electro-Technical Council of Ireland.
Mr. Jack Callanan National Disability Authority.
Ms. Emer O’Siochru, An Taisce.
Ms. Maria Melia, Chief Fire Officers Associations.
Ms. Ann Mills, City & County Engineers Association.
Mr. Johnny McGettigan, Irish Building Control Institute.
Ms. Minka Louise McInerney, Royal Inst. of the Architects of Ireland.
Mr. Jimmy Keogan, City & County Managers Association.
Ms. Krystyna Rawicz, Society of Chartered Surveyors.
Mr. Gary Treanor, Irish Timber Frame Manufacturers’ Association Ltd.
Mr Sean Balfe, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
Ms. Sarah Neary, Senior Building Adviser, Building Standards, DEHLG.
Mr. Noel Carroll, Senior Housing Adviser, DEHLG.
Ms. Jacqui Donnelly, Architect, Heritage Policy & Architectural Protection, DEHLG.
Ms. Terry Prendergast, National Consumer Agency
Mr Cian O’Lionáin, Principal Officer, Private Housing Sector & Building Standards, DEHLG
Ms Edel Collins, Office of Public Works
Mr Kevin O’Rourke, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
Other posts of interest: