London, A scheme costing $260 million to urgently remove unsafe and dangerous cladding from high-rise apartment blocks in England was announced on Thursday by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The work, needed after the June 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, will be carried out on nearly 170 privately-owned tower blocks where owners have failed to remove the cladding, said government agency Homes England.
Seventy two people died when a fire destroyed Grenfell Tower in west London in June 2017. It was one of the UK’s worst modern disasters as it left the 24-storey block in North Kensington a charred ruin.
A public inquiry into the fire heard evidence to support the theory that the highly combustible material in the cladding was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the government identified 176 private high-rise residential buildings with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – the same type used on Grenfell Tower.
Latest government figures show that 166 private residential buildings out of the 176 are yet to start work on removing and replacing it, the BBC reported.
The Homes England agency said the government has stepped in to speed up vital cladding replacement by fully funding the work, eliminating excuses used by some building owners.
“We’ve seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders,” said the Prime Minister.
“Today I can confirm we will now be fully funding the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes.”
Building owners will now have three months to access the new fund before the government decides what further action can be taken against owners who fail to remediate their buildings.
As a condition of funding, the government says it will require building owners to take steps to recover the costs of the work from those responsible for the presence of the unsafe cladding.