No safety concern with external cladding on Irish homes - Minister

Denis Naughten says materials used here are of ‘the highest possible standards’

Minister for the Environment  Denis Naughten said he had absolutely no hesitation in encouraging people to avail of “deep retrofit materials” in Ireland.  File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten said he had absolutely no hesitation in encouraging people to avail of “deep retrofit materials” in Ireland. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

There are no safety concerns whatsoever in Ireland with retrofitted insulation, including external cladding, the Minister for the Environment has said.

Speaking in advance of a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) conference in Dublin on Wednesday on retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, Minister Denis Naughten said he had absolutely no hesitation in encouraging people to avail of “deep retrofit materials” in Ireland.

“It does meet the highest possible standard; that wasn’t the case in the UK,” he said.

External cladding insulation was believed to be a contributory factor in the devastating fire in London earlier this month, involving the Grenfell tower block, in which at least 79 people lost their lives.

Mr Naughten said all of the materials used for deep retrofitting, both internally and externally, is approved to National Standard Authority of Ireland (NSAI) standards, “the highest possible international standards”, and contractors were also registered with the NSAI.

“I have absolutely no concerns whatsoever with regard to the materials that are being used or the quality of the work that is being carried out through the deep retrofit schemes,” he said.

His remarks were echoed by the chief executive of the SEAI, who said there is a quite rigorous inspection scheme.

“As a result of that we strike people off the register, I wouldn’t say frequently, but as it comes up, we are very comfortable doing that,” he said.

He said people should use registered contractors as the register guaranteed contractors had a tax clearance certificate and insurance and were part of an inspections regime.

“All of the contractors will have their workmanship looked at to make sure the standards are where they need to be,” he said.

He also said, while it was possible there were cowboys in the industry, and “different measures or methods could be used or imported”, he was not aware of it.

The conference on deep retrofitting, the complete overhaul of the energy efficiency of a home, featured national and international experts. They discussed the potential within the construction sector and challenges and opportunities facing the Government and other bodies in delivering energy efficient homes and sustainable communities.

As many as 1 million homes, built in the last century, are considered to be significantly energy inefficient, according to the SEAI, resulting in higher energy bills and, in some cases, poorer health and wellbeing for homeowners.

Grants are available to householders toward the cost of insulation and efficiency measures and a new pilot scheme, being run by SEAI, will offer grants to community groups, local authorities and energy agencies for deep retrofitting projects, covering up to half of the costs.

Opening the conference, Mr Naughten also announced that grants of 90 per cent would be available in the case of voluntary homes and homes in energy poverty.