The government is proposing to toughen up building regulations by extending the period building control can prosecute. Fair enough, but there is an anomaly.

The latest consultation launched by the communities department sounds innocuous enough, but on closer inspection it poses an interesting ethical dilemma.

The consultation proposes to extend the length of time local authorities have for breaches of the Building Regulations from the current six months to two years.

So far so good, people who flagrantly breach rules that everyone else is diligently following should be stamped on. But delve into the small print and it becomes clear the communities department is actually trying to get the industry to solve a tricky ethical dilemma.

It’s all to do with the legal machinations of government. To change the time limits requires new legislation – except in the case of energy regulations. A piece of legislation called the Climate Change & Sustainable Energy Act 2006 allows the time limit to be easily extended from six months to two years for energy regulations and could be implemented as early as this autumn – when the consultation closes.

But implementing new legislation enabling the change to be applied to all regulations will have to wait until next year. So the communities department wants your views on whether to implement the change to the energy regulations alone, or wait until the necessary legislation is in place to apply the change to all regulations. So the dilemma can be summed up as follows.

Do we (a), have a situation where people can be prosecuted for not putting enough fluff in a wall but can’t be done for duff structural work that could kill people?

Or (b), because the planet is warming up fast we should take the opportunity to prosecute anyone who breaches energy regulations as soon as possible despite the above anomaly? Comments below please.