Until the late 1970s, asbestos was a commonly used building material and, despite its use declining until a total ban was implemented in 1999, its legacy lives on in over 5.5 million buildings in the UK. This can bring a number of challenges when it comes to building demolition, due to the health and safety hazards involved in managing asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs). It is crucial to establish the extent of such substances prior to carrying out any refurbishment or demolition work on a building.
Despite being banned in 1999, asbestos is still widespread across the UK built environment. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs), such as old ceiling tiles, plasterboard and wall insulation, may still be present in buildings - particularly those built before the late 1970s. Meanwhile, traces of the substance may be found in remnants of paints and other coatings after the original ACM has been removed, or even in soils after the building has been demolished.
Denis Morgan, divisional technical manager – asbestos, Built Environment Services, gives an overview of recently released asbestos guidance and its implications for the housing sector.
The Government has said that over the next five years it plans to directly commission the construction of thousands of new homes on public land. David Cameron described this announcement as the biggest shift in house building policy in the last 30 years. These plans will be backed up by an extra £1.2 billion to help remediate brownfield sites for tens of thousands of new homes across the country. This is an important step forward, with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) estimating there is capacity for at least one million new homes on suitable brownfield land in England alone.
James Dodgson, explains how a collaborative approach is key to the effective management of the risks associated with asbestos in soil.