A Hadleigh company that supplied plastic insulation for Grenfell Tower, which caught fire earlier this year, had a role in lobbying the Government to help maximise sales, according to a new investigation.
A Sky News investigation has revealed that representatives from the insulation industry influenced building regulations, as part of a Department of Energy and Climate Chance (DECC) committee in 2011, so they could push more insulation into homes.
One of the firms involved was Hadleigh-based Celotex, an insulation manufacturer located on the Lady Lane Industrial Estate, which later supplied the cladding fitted to the outside of Grenfell Tower.
The high-rise public housing block in north Kensington, London, caught alight on June 14, resulting in the deaths of 71 people.
Sky’s investigation found that fire safety was rarely considered when personnel from the insulation industry, including Celotex, were working with the Government years earlier on the Green Deal, an initiative which sought to develop ways of getting more buildings to be insulated.
Simon Hay, a construction consultant who was part of the Green Deal committee, told Sky News: “The point from the insulation companies was that they were going to sell a lot more insulation.”
The investigation cited a Green Deal launch report from 2012, titled ‘Opportunities for Industry’, which it says mentioned ‘costs’ or ‘savings’ 245 times, but made no mention of fire safety.
It also pointed to statements by Rob Warren, the technical director of the Hadleigh company, on a now-deleted page on the Celotex website, where he reportedly said his work with the Government allowed him to “shape this critical policy, enabling the insulation industry to maximise the benefits”.
It is also claimed that Mr Warren told industry journal Urethanes Technology International in 2015 that changing regulations were the “greatest driver” for profits from plastic insulation sales.
Following the Grenfell Tower blaze, Celotex ceased supplying its RS5000 insulation, which was fitted on the exterior of Grenfell Tower, for rainscreen cladding on high-rise buildings, pending further inquiries.
In a statement issued last week, Celotex confirmed the suspension on its 5000 range will stay in place, as it carries out additional safety tests on its products and reviews its systems and processes.
“We recognise this will prompt many questions,” the statement read. “We are making this announcement so our customers have relevant information about these matters.
“We would like to reassure them that we will do everything we can to answer these questions.”
The firm said it was unable to provide further information on issues which fall within the remit of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, but is offering “full co-operation with the ongoing investigations”.
Babergh District Council said it had undertaken a full audit of its social housing, as well as fire safety checks, and has either completed or is in the process of conducting the necessary work identified by these assesments.
Cllr Jan Osborne, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The safety of our residents is always our top priority and, to guarantee that safety, we conducted a full audit of all its social housing following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.
“We can confirm that none of our housing includes insulation systems similar to those at Grenfell.
“We can reassure all residents that none of our properties include external insulation from the manufacturers of the cladding used on Grenfell Tower and, as building regulations are set at a national level, Babergh has not been approached by any such manufacturers to lobby the councils.”