CTI News & Events

CTI statement on the performance of wood cladding in a fire

The outcome of the UK government’s assessment last year of the use of different cladding materials in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy confirmed that timber, where necessary enhanced with flame retardant, remains fit for purpose where the upper floor level of a building where the upper floor level is less than 18m above ground (Building Regulations England). In all situations where Building Regulations stipulate a particular reaction to fire performance level for materials on the external face of a multi-storey residential building below this level, then those performance levels must be complied with.
 
However, Building Regulations guidance does not always stipulate a particular reaction to fire performance for cladding and/or balconies on buildings where the upper floor level is less than 18m above ground. In such circumstances, so as to provide consistency, insurance and peace of mind against unforeseen circumstances, an independent, professional fire risk assessment which takes into account the building design, use, materials and location is essential at the project design stage. Indeed, this has been a principle embodied in the CDM Regulations for some years which has very recently been reinforced by MHCLG in a circular letter to Building Control in England & Wales.

Such an assessment may demonstrate that, by means of careful design and component specification, flame retardant treatment is unnecessary in the particular circumstances. However, following recent reviews and from industry feedback on new projects, the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) recommend that all such timber based cladding and balcony components should be treated using a quality assured factory-applied flame retardant to Euroclass B, unless shown not to be necessary by an appropriate risk assessment process.

Timber remains an excellent material for manufacture and construction, but proper risk assessment, specification and detailing are paramount to ensuring safety whatever the build method.

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-statement-performance-wood-cladding-fire]

Combustible Materials Response, Implications for Timber Industry

Last week, the Government announced an amendment to part B of the building regulations which has implications for timber components of buildings in and on external walls.

The regulations specify that for all residential developments above 18m, all materials in or on the external wall must be of European Classification A2-s1, d0 or Class A1, classified in accordance with BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009.

This includes external cladding and facade systems above that height, as well as structural timber components within the external wall.

David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) said: “While it is disappointing that the Government has taken this approach, it is not that surprising.

“Flame retardant timber cladding remains incredibly popular and the consultation response has confirmed its’ suitability for all building types below 18 metres. We look forward to helping grow the market for this versatile, environmentally positive material now that clarity has been provided.

“For other structural timber such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), it is clear that architects and designers may now have to look at new design strategies for the external wall build ups in taller buildings. However, CLT has not been banned. It is still a perfectly safe, viable building material for a huge variety of projects.  The UK remains a global leader in timber design and construction so this regulation is likely act as a spur to further innovation.

“The move toward timber design and construction is a huge movement and it is unlikely that this change to regulation will halt that. There is still an enormous market for structural timber design and that will continue.

“Globally, the USA is amending its building code to allow buildings up to 18 storeys using engineered timber; Australia has recently announced its latest tallest timber tower; and new buildings from mass timber are being unveiled across Europe on a regular basis.

“Offsite timber construction remains the fastest growing sector for building in the UK, certainly for housebuilding, and will continue to be so due to its practical and environmental advantages.

“We will continue to promote the positive benefits of timber construction, including its fire safety performance, to all stakeholders including Government as we build our timber future.”

Read the “Technical Notice” on Changes to Building Regulations Approved Document B and Approved Document 7 here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/combustible-materials-response-implications-timber-industry]

CTI Briefing Paper highlights potential Timber Industry losses due to Combustible Materials Ban

The Confederation of Timber Industries has produced a briefing paper summarising its view on two major topics of discussion such as Combustible Materials Ban and Fire Safety.

The factsheet focuses on possible actions the Government could take to improve fire safety of buildings by setting a clear regulatory framework.

The paper also warns of the "unforeseen consequences to homeowners and the construction industry" that an indiscriminate ban on combustible materials could trigger and recommends the establishment of a "licensing system for use of materials."

"In order to improve the safety of buildings, the Government must ensure that any new regime is both enforceable and enforced," says the paper. "Arguably one of the challenges to date has been lack of adherence to and enforcement of, existing building regulations and guidance. There has also been some confusion and a lack of clarity in the existing regulatory framework. Unless there is a cultural shift, any changes to the regulatory framework will not have the intended effect of making buildings safer.  

"As the London Fire Brigade said in its response to the Government’s consultation on banning combustible materials: 'a ban requires careful consideration to ensure there are not unintended consequences.”

"We therefore believe that a licensing system for use of materials – rather than an outright ban – is likely to be a more effective means of ensuring buildings are as safe as possible."

On the extent of combustible materials ban, the CTI "supports changes to limit the use of (and in some cases ban) combustible materials in taller buildings. However, the Government has not been clear regarding whether or not it intends any changes to apply simply to cladding, or to the structural wall in its entirety.

"If the scope of the ban were to include the structural wall as well as the cladding wall, then the impact will be a massive limitation in access to the materials available for building and the stifling of innovation, investment and employment."   

Download the briefing paper here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-briefing-paper-highlights-potential-timber-industry-losses-due-combustible-materials-ban]

Government pledges to prioritise the timber industry after Brexit

Last Wednesday, at the Westminster Hall debate on Leaving the EU, Environment Minister David Rutley MP committed to “strengthening the timber trade” during a parliamentary debate on the implications of Brexit on the timber industry.

Describing the industry as a “real priority” for Government, the Minister also pledged to make sure that timber importers face as “few additional costs as possible” after Brexit.

The comments came after Martin Whitfield MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries, urged the Government to ensure that after we leave the EU, timber imports can continue clear customs the same way they do now [Read more].

Martin Whitfield MP said: “Without frictionless trade, I believe we face a clear challenge to build the number of homes the Prime Minister has committed to providing over this parliament.

This challenge exists because the supply of timber is essential to meeting housing demands. This sector, which contributes £10bn to the UK economy each year is still hugely reliant on trade with EU countries. Incredibly, 90% of the timber used to build homes in the UK is imported from across Europe.”

David Hopkins, Director of the Confederation of the Timber Industries (CTI) said: “We welcome the Minister’s commitment to minimise the additional costs of Brexit on the import and export of timber. I am glad that the Government understands the indispensable role our industry plays in the UK construction sector and the wider economy.

“It is encouraging that David Rutley MP has agreed to meet with the APPG for the Timber Industries to further discuss how the Government can support the timber sector and, therefore, ensure the Government achieves its house building targets.”

The Confederation of Timber Industries has already secured a number of concessions from Government in relation to the sector‘s future after the UK leaves the European Union.

Earlier this year Government committed to protect timber businesses from up-front payments of VAT in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This followed earlier Ministerial commitments to retain the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) after the UK leaves the European Union, following pressure from the industry.


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A full transcript of the Westminster Hall debate on Leaving the EU: Timber Industry is available here.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries is the cross-party group which champions the timber industries in Parliament. Its Chair is Martin Whitfield MP and the secretariat is provided by the Confederation of Timber Industries. Find out more here.

 

*Read also:

31.10.18 - If the PM is serious about solving the housing crisis, she must scrap Chequers & broker an improved deal that ensures timber can clear customs freely

26.10.18 - Martin Whitfield MP elected new Chair of Timber Industries APPG

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/government-pledges-prioritise-timber-industry-after-brexit]

Martin Whitfield MP elected new Chair of Timber Industries APPG

Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian, has been elected as new Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Timber Industries at its AGM at Westminster.

The APPG brings together parliamentarians from the Commons and the Lords with an interest in the UK's timber industries to ensure that issues affecting the sector are highlighted within Parliament and to Government.

Officers of the renewed APPG now include: Joint Vice Chairman Bill Grant, MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Conservative), Joint Vice Chairman Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore (Labour) and Joint Vice Chairman Antoinette Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury (Conservative).

The timber industries contribute over £10 billion per year to the UK economy and are in the top 50% of manufacturing industries in the UK. The sector employs around 200,000 people across the UK, in construction, manufacturing and distribution. 

East Lothian is one of the most important hubs for the timber industries in Scotland, including Alba Trees, the UK’s largest supplier of cell grown plants, and various sawmills and timber merchants all located within the county.

One of Mr Whitfield’s first acts as Chair will be to lead a Westminster Hall debate on the effect of Brexit on the UK’s timber industries on Wednesday 31st October.

Martin Whitfield MP said: “The timber industries APPG was one of the first I joined after entering Parliament, so I'm very pleased to now have the opportunity to chair the group and play a bigger role in promoting the interests of the sector.

"Local businesses in the timber industries play an important role in providing jobs in East Lothian. They help facilitate demand across the UK for sustainable, managed forests and contribute to addressing the housing crisis by providing affordable, environmentally friendly timber-framed homes.

"I will continue to work with parliamentary colleagues and industry representatives to stand up for the needs of the UK’s forestry and timber industries and promote them in Parliament."

David Hopkins, Director of the CTI added: “We are delighted that Martin has taken up this role with the Timber Industries APPG. The timber sector can play a key role in achieving the goals of a number of policy areas, from housebuilding to clean-growth. We look forward to working with Martin and fellow members of the APPG over the coming year to do this.”

The photo gallery of the meeting is available here.

Find out more about composition and activities of the Timber Industries APPG here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/martin-whitfield-mp-elected-new-chair-timber-industries-appg]

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