Disastrous Preston retrofits make national headlines

Disastrous Preston retrofits make national headlines

The revelations in Passive House Plus issue 24 about failed external insulation retrofits in the Fishwick area of Preston have been followed up by UK national media, putting pressure on Ofgem, the electricity and gas regulator, to make more effort to help those affected.

This article was originally published in issue 28 of Passive House Plus magazine. Want immediate access to all back issues and exclusive extra content? Click here to subscribe for as little as €10, or click here to receive the next issue free of charge

The government has also told Preston’s MP it will nominate a civil servant within the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to pursue a resolution.

Earlier in the year, Passive House Plus reported on the disastrous scheme, which affected up to 390 homes with water penetration, mould and damp. The installations took place under the Community Energy Saving Scheme, which required energy companies to fund energy effi ciency measures in disadvantaged communities and were originally commissioned by InterGen.

In an item on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in November, journalist Zoe Conway reported on the homes described in Passive House Plus, along with other homes in the Fishwick area that had work carried out on behalf of energy company SSE, where similar problems have emerged. The report also covered two failed cavity insulation schemes, one in Leeds and one in Blackpool. Chartered building surveyor David Walter described the workmanship he saw in Preston to the BBC as “appalling – the worst I have seen”.

The report quoted a response from Ofgem stating it was “looking at other options” to assist the affected householders.

The broadcast was followed by an item in the Mail Online under the headline ‘’Green' drive leaves thousands of families stranded in homes riddled with damp and mould after contractors bodged the insulation’.

Meanwhile, speaking in an adjournment debate called by the Preston MP Mark Fisher in October, secretary of state Claire Perry laid responsibility at the door of the energy companies and installers, but accepted that, “I do not think what has happened has been good enough.”

She added “I am going to instruct one person in my department to act as the broker and bring together all the people who have played a part in the problem and can also be part of the solution.

“It sounds as though InterGen, E.ON [the energy company who commissioned the remediation] and Ofgem also need to be corralled into a place where we can come up with a solution.”

Meanwhile, the TrustMark quality scheme for tradespeople announced in October that it has expanded its remit to include the retrofit and energy efficiency sectors. TrustMark was asked by the government to develop a process that could protect householders having work carried out under government schemes like ECO.

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