Categories: TV/Showbiz

Piles of ‘Grenfell’ insulation is being used to fix homes

Homeowners yesterday condemned plans to repair their flats with the combustible insulation used on Grenfell Tower.

They were shocked to find crates of Kingspan Kooltherm K15 in their car park at the start of works to make their properties safe.

The material is at the centre of the inquiry into the Grenfell fire, which cost 72 lives in June 2017. 

It had failed a series of fire safety checks, turning one testing rig into ‘a raging inferno’.

Resident Pam O’Donoghue, 41, a Cancer clinical nurse specialist stands with the cladding that has been left in the underground carpark

Hill Group, the firm behind the development at Zenith Close in Barnet, north London, says it ordered the crates in case the current insulation material, also Kingspan K15, was damaged during repairs to defective fire breaks.

It is following building regulations but experts said there was ‘no excuse’ for refitting the material given safety fears. They warned of another deadly blaze if the approach was adopted elsewhere.

Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders in unsafe homes face average bills of £40,000 – and some of up to £115,000 – to fix fire safety defects identified in the wake of Grenfell.

Just 202 out of an estimated 11,760 dangerous buildings have been repaired so far because ministers have been slow to release funds.

The Daily Mail is campaigning for work to be completed within 18 months and for leaseholders to be spared the bill.

This newspaper is also demanding that firms responsible for safety failures be made to pay their fair share.

Our campaign is being backed by MPs from all parties, including more than a dozen Tory backbenchers.

Pam O’Donoghue, a nurse who lives at Zenith Close, says she spotted the crates of Kingspan K15 insulation on Saturday.

She and 71 other leaseholders have been unable to sell or remortgage their homes since their block was found to be a fire risk in June last year. Hill has agreed to cover the costs of fixing defective fire breaks and work began last week.

Resident O’Donoghue, 41, a Cancer clinical nurse specialist stands outside her block of flats in Barnet, North London where developers are installing Kingspan K15 cladding which is the same material as the cladding from Grenfell

But residents are furious that the firm is planning on refitting Kingspan K15 and fear they will have to pay to replace it again if tests later prove it is unsafe.

This will depend on how it combines with other materials in the building, but the insulation has already been banned from use on newbuilds over 60ft tall. Zenith Close is above 60ft, but there is no outright ban on combustible insulation if these buildings are being made safe – as in this instance.

Miss O’Donoghue, 41, said Hill was taking ‘a hell of a risk’. She added: ‘We’re living in these buildings and we don’t know how much of a death trap they are. It’s an ongoing nightmare.’

The Grenfell inquiry has heard that Kooltherm K15 was fitted on the west London tower despite not being suitable for high-rise buildings.

Cladding expert Dr Jonathan Evans told the Mail that Hill had made ‘a terrible decision’ to refit the material ‘for the sake of the cost of replacing it’.

Independent fire safety expert Stephen Mackenzie said the regulations were ‘an absolute quagmire’, adding: ‘Someone can and will die as a result.’

The material is at the centre of the inquiry into the Grenfell fire, which cost 72 lives in June 2017 

Local Tory MP Dr Matthew Offord, who backs the Mail campaign, said: ‘Developers appear to have learnt nothing from Grenfell if they press ahead in installing Kingspan K15. I have written to Hill Group expressing my deep concerns. This is causing unnecessary distress.’

A Hill spokesman said the K15 insulation was approved by regulators and would be used to fix incidental damage only.

He said the firm was confident the building would pass further fire safety tests.

Kingspan has apologised for ‘process shortcomings during the period of 2005 to 2015’.

The K15 crates were yesterday removed at the request of the London Fire Brigade.

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