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Sprinklers bill lands unanimous Welsh Assembly backing

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A bill to make sprinklers mandatory in all new residential schemes in Wales has landed unanimous backing from the Welsh Assembly

The government in October vetoed an attempt at UK-wide legislation, however a reform to the Welsh building regulations is on target to enter law before April.

Proposals backed by Labour Assembly Member (AM) Ann Jones received unanimous acceptance on general fire safety principles however a number of amendments were tabled which the legislation committee will now consider.

Rosemary Butler AM, legislation committee chairs, warned that practical issues regarding water supply and maintenance had yet to be resolved and installation costs were likely to surpass estimates.

Angela Burns AM, finance committee chair, however said there was no evidence the measure would pose a significant burden on house buyers or have a significant impact on the housing market, despite the increased cost to developers.

She also cited claims that properties which had fire suppression systems could prove more desirable than those without.

The assembly has until its next election to put into place the measures which will affect all new residential schemes.

Previous story (25.10.10)

Government rejects UK sprinklers bill

The government has vetoed proposals to make sprinklers mandatory in all new homes in the UK

Labour peer Lyndon Harrison mooted the policy in a backbench ‘Building Regulations (Review) Bill’, which then received an unopposed second reading in the Lords.

But Tory whip Earl Attlee said a review of building regulations was currently in progress and the issue of sprinklers and fire safety had already been researched in recent years.

Lord Attlee added that he saw the issue as being of more concern to the housebuilding and insurance industries than to ministers and warned that compulsory fitting of sprinklers to all new homes could cost about £300 million a year.

He said the government was generally trying to reduce regulation rather than increase it.

A separate order to make sprinklers compulsory for all new homes in Wales achieved Royal Assent on 12 April.

Previous story (09.06.10)

Welsh sprinklers on the horizon as UK-wide legislation stutters

A law to make sprinklers compulsory in all Welsh new residential buildings could be approved within the year - while the election has slowed progress on UK-wide regulation

Granted Royal Assent on 12 April, the Welsh assembly now has until its next election to put into place measures which will affect all new residential schemes. The proposal has cross-party support and was voted for unanimously in February.

Meanwhile the change of government at Whitehall has delayed progress on a UK-wide version of the law.

Lord Harrison’s Private Members Bill was sent back to the first reading stage, having cleared committee stage previously.  The bill has yet to have a date confirmed for its second reading.

However Bill-backer Chris Enness, deputy chief fire officer at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘I do not believe the progress of this Bill is affected by the change of Government.

‘The building regulations in their current format are backwards looking and do very little to prepare our communities for the changes in social care policy, changes to our demography, and the decreases in public funding. 

‘Lord Harrison’s visionary Bill seeks to amend the regulation and protect our communities in line with these changes.‘


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