Building owners with "Grenfell" cladding must take immediate action to fix it

Cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower is lethal and must be fixed “as soon as possible”, government fire tests have found.

Long-awaited tests carried out on High Pressure Laminate (HPL) material – which is wrapped around the homes of thousands of people in the UK – found it was “clear” in some cases it had to be removed.

HPL cladding was deemed unsafe when it was not made with fire retardant or is used alongside a combustible material.

The Fire Brigades Union said it was “outrageous” it had taken the Government so long to recognise the dangers, more than two years after the tragedy that killed 72 in West London.

Part of the Mirror’s Grenfell: Never Again campaign is to see the removal of dangerous cladding from UK buildings.

The Fire Protection Association (FPA), which carried out the test, said last week that all combustible cladding should be removed from high-rise buildings regardless of the insulation used.

In May the Government announced a £200 million fund to help with the removal of lethal ACM cladding – which was used on Grenfell – on buildings across the country.

But many leaseholders whose buildings have HPL and other dangerous cladding are being forced to foot life-changing bills by developers.

Although experts have been calling for tests on non-ACM cladding since September 2017, it was only carried out last Thursday.

An expert panel for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government found it was “clear” that an external wall fitted with non-fire-retardant HPL cladding “would not have met the functional requirements of the Building Regulations”.

It “presents a notable fire hazard on buildings over 18m,” the government told building owners in an advice note.

Building owners who identify these materials “should take immediate measures to remediate their system,” it said.

The note added: “Where existing buildings have any HPL panels in combination with combustible insulation, they should immediately take action.”

Fire retardant HPL was safe when used in combination with a non-combustible material, the experts found.

Sarah Jones MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, blasted: “In the wake of a damning select committee report, the government has finally confirmed what experts have been telling them for years: HPL cladding is lethal and should be removed from buildings.

“The fact that ministers waited until two years after Grenfell to confirm to people that they have been living in potential death traps is a disgrace. 

“And today’s statement is a poor attempt at a cover-up, highlighting the one combination of cladding and insulation which passed a fire test. 

“Worst of all, Ministers were made aware of a failed fire test featuring HPL nine months ago and failed to act.

“The Government must immediately require building owners to check for this cladding, as they did with ACM, so we know the scale of this problem.

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