Martin Shouler, chairman of the Society of Public Health Engineers, has spoken of his disappointment at the 11th hour delay of the revisions to Part G of the Building Regulations.
The revised regulations were due to come into force on 1 October, but the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) confirmed last week that the delay could be up to six months.
Shouler said: “For a number of reasons, it is disappointing to hear that the introduction of Part G may be postponed.
“Firstly, the aim of the revised Part G to ensure that our new buildings are more sustainable and safer was, broadly, well received and anticipated by the industry. Secondly, any potential delay will lead to an amount of uncertainty for designers, specifiers, installers and building owners in terms of their responsibilities.”
Part G deals with sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency. The Building Regulations Approved Document which outlined the proposed changes has already been published. This document will now have to be amended.
An industry source claimed the delay was because of an objection raised by the European Commission. CLG refused to confirm this and the EC was unable to comment.
But the claim was supported by Geoff Wilkinson, spokesman for the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors. He told BSD he was alerted to the delay by contacts at the Building Regulatory Advisory Committee.
Wilkinson suggested the “significant issue” that led CLG to pull the document was an objection by an EU member state under the Technical Standards Directive.
He said that under the directive, this meant the document was now at a three-month standstill and CLG was prohibited from introducing the revised Approved Document before 2 December.
“The language from CLG suggests that this is a barrier-to-trade issue,” he said. “That would suggest that one or other of the member states feels something within the document will prevent it from trading in the UK.”
Wilkinson said one possible reason for the objection was the new stipulation in the document which called for thermostatic controls on bath taps to keep the water temperature at less than 48C.
“When the consultation began, there were a range of options as to how we should control water use,” he said.
“The view was to go down the route of water limitation via a water calculator method rather than by limiting the sale of fittings that didn’t comply. So if it is down to this issue of thermostatic controls, it’s very surprising.”
CLG was unable to say when the document would be updated. A spokeswoman said there was no set date as yet, but the short-term aim was to “resolve the issues raised and to issue a final Approved Document as far in advance” of the changes coming into force in the six-month window ending in April next year.
Although this leaves designers in a regulatory grey area until the issue is resolved, Wilkinson does not anticipate that the document will be much altered.
He said: “The document will most likely go out as originally published but it does make us wonder what it will in turn mean for the Part L consultation which is currently under way.”
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