Inside Housing – News – Peers propose two different ‘polluter pays’ schemes under changes to building safety bill

Two ‘polluter pays’ schemes have been proposed for government debate after members of the House of Lords tabled new amendments to the Building Safety Bill.

The amendments will be debated in parliament on Monday (Picture: Getty)

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Both amendments seek to make developers who breached building regulations at the time of construction pay for firefighting through new #UKhousing legislation

The two amendments, one from the Earl of Lytton and the other from Lord Young of Cookham, both seek to make developers who breached building regulations at the time of construction pay for firefighting through new legislation.

The aim of “polluter pays” is to force developers who have breached building regulations from 1 June 1992 to pay fire safety instead of the tenant and make the polluter responsible for the work.

The government said it was ‘looking very carefully’ at ‘polluter pays’ proposals in August last year and Housing Secretary Michael Gove and Buildings Safety Minister Lord Greenhalgh have often spoken of the making the polluter pay in recent building safety announcements.

The main difference between these two proposals, which MEPs will debate in Parliament next week, is how they will be implemented.

The Earl of Lytton’s amendment calls on the government to establish the Fire Hazard Remediation Program (FHRS).

The principle of the FHRS is that “the costs of remediating residential buildings with fire hazards should be borne by those responsible for the hazards” and, where this is not reasonably practicable, they should be borne borne by the construction industry.

Appraisers will be appointed to make decisions under the program, and these may be able to look beyond the company that built the building and to its parent or sister companies to extract money.

If there is no corporate entity to pay, this group of amendments requires the government to set up a levy system to collect the money from the rest of the construction industry.

Appeals against an assessor’s decision will be heard by way of judicial review and appeals against a funding award will be heard in a trial court.

Lord Young of Cookham’s amendment inserts additional clauses into the Building Act 1984 (section 36).

This proposes to extend the enforcement powers of local authorities and the Secretary of State to impose corrective measures and cover costs in the event of breaches of building regulations.

Under this scheme, if a polluter is unable or does not carry out the work, the local authority or a building manager can complete the remediation and charge the polluter.

A building manager in this section is described as “the person responsible in relation to the building in question as defined in Regulation 3 of the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (Fire Safety) or any other person who has the power to perform the work”.

Tenants can contact the local authority of a building, which then has the obligation to respond within 90 days.

There will be penalties for failing to comply with a remediation notice and the polluter is also required to pay the cost of any mitigation measures.

A technical committee will be set up to settle disputes concerning the non-compliance of the works with construction rules at the time of their completion.

Any polluter dissatisfied with a decision made by the committee may request arbitration, which will be supervised in accordance with the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

The Building Safety Bill will begin its journey through committee stage, a line-by-line review of the bill, in parliament on Monday.

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