Frances Tait: Banning Combustible Cladding on High-Risk Buildings in Scotland: What Businesses Need to Know

Frances Tait, who works in Womble Bond Dickinson’s construction and engineering team, outlines the changes to combustible lining legislation that are to be introduced in Scotland.

Everyone’s attention has been on the Safe Buildings Bill (now the Safe Buildings Act 2022) which received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 – but it’s important to remember that North of the border, the building security regime is quite different.

In fact, Scotland has recently had its own significant development in building and fire safety, quite separately from the Building Safety Act (which only applies in England and the Country of Wales).

It is vital for construction industry professionals (such as developers and designers) and contractors to understand these legislative differences. Law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has shared what the changes will mean for companies building in Scotland.

The changes explained

On April 22, 2022, the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 were tabled in the Scottish Parliament. These new regulations provide strict coating rules for buildings, beyond those set out in the legislation of England and Wales.

The Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 prohibit the use of combustible materials on the exterior of all new residential construction and other ‘high risk’ buildings over 11 meters in height. The changes also apply to rehabilitation work at the same classification of buildings. (In contrast, the position in England and Wales is that a ban on combustible cladding only applies to residential buildings over 18 metres.)

Cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings in Scotland have either had to use non-combustible materials or pass a full-scale fire test since 2005 – however the new regulations remove the option of a fire test, completely prohibiting the use of combustible materials on domestic buildings. and other high-risk buildings, such as nursing homes and hospitals, above 11 meters.

The new regulations also provide for a total ban on metal composite cladding on any new building of any height. This will cover high risk metal composite cladding materials, such as high pressure laminates (HPL) and aluminum composite materials (ACM) used on Grenfell Tower.

When do these changes take effect?

The new regulations will come into force on June 1, 2022 and will apply to new construction and the coating of existing buildings.

The bigger picture

For more information on the main differences between Scottish and English building and fire safety regimes, see Scotland: post-Grenfell building and fire safety regulations; and to learn more about building security, visit WBD’s Building Security Center and Building security timeline.