Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities wrote to the Construction Products Association on 22 January 2022, opening up a dialogue with its members in which Celotex is participating. There is a parallel discussion between the Secretary of State and the major UK property developers.
As a manufacturer of building products, Celotex supports initiatives which are aimed at ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed in such a way that they are safe.
It welcomes, and has fully co-operated with, the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, which has done and will continue to do much to inform all relevant stakeholders as to where industry standards should be improved and the regulatory regime, and its enforcement, enhanced. Celotex also endorses the work of the Industry Safety Steering Group chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt in improving competency and cultures across all sectors of the construction industry, as well as the work undertaken by the Construction Products Association in developing a Code for Construction Product Information.
In addition to measures designed to improve regulations and standards for the future, Celotex acknowledges that redesign and replacement of unsafe cladding systems designed and constructed in the past is a valid objective. The solution for achieving that is far from straightforward given the inherent complexities involved.
Not all buildings with external cladding are unsafe. Their safety depends on, among other things, the design of the particular cladding system for that building and the precise combination of components specified and used within it, as well as the quality of construction of the system.
The design and construction of any building which has a rainscreen cladding system will have been the result of the work of several different construction industry professionals each contributing their own experience and expertise.
Celotex manufactures PIR insulation which can be safely used in a properly designed and constructed rainscreen cladding system.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 Report found that polyethylene-cored ACM cladding panels were the primary driver of external fire spread at Grenfell Tower. This is supported by the tests of cladding systems incorporating ACM-PE panels carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government (as it was then known) after the Grenfell Tower fire, all of which failed irrespective of the kind of insulation used in the system.
The cladding crisis is a highly complex problem and any industry wide solution would need to be proportionate and fair.
Celotex was acquired in 2012 and cumulative sales of its RS5000 product (marketed for use in the above 18m market between August 2014 and June 2017) accounted for about £5.8 million in revenue in such 3 year period. Celotex’s records do not track and Celotex does not have the means to track which of its sales to distributors relate to products subsequently incorporated by end users into cladding systems on buildings between 11-18m in height. Celotex’s retrospective estimate is that cumulative revenue from the supply of insulation used on buildings of that height in the 15 year period between 2006 and 2021 was in the range of £53 – 58 million.
Celotex understands that the Department is engaging with groups of construction professionals and other industry participants. Once the Department’s proposals are further refined and more is known about the way in which all relevant stakeholders are engaging in them, Celotex is of course willing to engage in further discussions.