Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

Building Safety Act - New Guidance for Leaseholders

On 21 July 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published a new guidance note titled "Building safety leaseholder protections: guidance for leaseholders", which has been drafted to accompany the Building Safety (Leaseholder Protections) (Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/859). The guidance note is split into a number of sub-sections that address topics such as "Cladding remediation" and "Definition of non-cladding remediation". The publication of these notes has been followed by the withdrawal of the 30 factsheets previously issued by DLUHC concerning the Building Safety Act 2022, all of which were withdrawn on 25 July 2022

You can find a copy of the guidance note here.

Government seeks views on landfill tax grant scheme for brownfield sites

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a call for evidence regarding a proposed scheme to refund landfill tax and encourage redevelopment of brownfield sites and contaminated land. The consultation will consider whether a scheme to support councils to overcome the landfill tax burden is required and how it may be designed.

It also seeks views on how to ensure a grant scheme can avoid undermining the waste hierarchy or incentivise illegal dumping. Under Defra's proposals, applicants must demonstrate that the use of landfill is necessary and that the quantity of waste at landfill will be minimised. The grant would then ensure that the scheme is cost neutral in respect of landfill tax.

The consultation closes on 18 August 2022.

For more information or to submit your views, please visit this link.

Court finds Net Zero Strategy inadequate

On 18 July 2022, the High Court gave its decision in R (Friends of the Earth and Others) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [2022].

The claimants (Friends of the Earth, Good Law Project and ClientEarth) applied for judicial review of the Government's Net Zero Strategy. This strategy sets out the Government's proposals for meeting carbon targets, including the volume of greenhouse gases that the UK can emit during a specific time period, as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 (the Act).

The Court agreed with the claimants in part, finding that the Net Zero Strategy is inadequate and that the Government needs to provide more information about how the policies will achieve the targets set out in the Act. In particular, the calculations supporting the Net Zero Strategy did not add up to the reductions necessary to meet the carbon budget.

The Government now has 8 months to update its strategy.

A full copy of the judgment can be found here.

Regulator pushes insurers to cut premiums for leaseholders

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is expected to push insurers to lower the cost of property insurance for thousands of leasehold apartments in high-rise buildings. This forms part of a report for the Government which is due to be released by the end of the month. The report follows the Government's request in January for the FCA to investigate why the cost of insuring these properties has risen, in some cases by over 100% a year.

The FCA is said to be considering whether imposing caps on the commissions that insurers pay brokers would be appropriate, albeit there is believed to be an acknowledgment by the FCA of the challenge insurers face in assessing the emerging risks of cladding. Additionally, Insurers and ministers are also said to be in advanced talks to create an insurance pool which would spread the risk of covering those buildings considered to be most at risk.

For more information, please see here.

Liverpool tall buildings policy

A year after Liverpool lost its Unesco world heritage status as a result of the "irreversible loss" to the historical value of its Victorian docks, details have been published for proposed new guidance on tall buildings in the city. The guidance document, which will be put out to public consultation if endorsed by the city council's cabinet this week, suggests that residential towers of up to 50 storeys in height, or 150m, would be acceptable in some locations.

The Liverpool Waters development already has permission for multiple 30+ storey towers, and the proposed guidance anticipates that the city's central business district would be able to accommodate buildings of up to 50 storeys.

For more information, please see here or here. You can also read the full planning document here.

Think tank to tackle young construction worker retention rates

A new think tank has been set up to assist with keeping young people in the construction industry. The "Future Innovation Group" is backed by leading construction companies and will be led by a group of placement students.

Gerard Toplass (Chief Executive of Pagabo) estimates that only 25% of those who start construction qualifications actually complete them and stay in the industry.

The group will investigate why so many people are leaving the sector early on their careers and will try to find solutions to attract and retain young people. They will also look at how the industry can become more "data driven" in the modern world we live in.

You can read more here.