NAPIT responds to important changes to Part P of the Building Regulations
Important changes have recently been announced to Part P, the section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales which deals with domestic electrical safety.These changes are due to come into force on 6th April 2013 in England, with the current requirements continuing in Wales until further notice.
The document itself is shorter and clearer, with some reduction to the list of works that must be notified to the Local Authority Building Control (LABC).
Set out by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Don Foster, the new Approved Document will reduce the scope of work that will be notifiable in England. In practice, this will mean that notification of minor work carried out in kitchens and outdoor areas is no longer deemed necessary, unless a new circuit is required.
In a recent Written Ministerial Statement announcing these changes, Mr Foster expressed his support for Part P, saying; ‘Engagement with our external partners shows that they continue to value the national minimum standards provided by the Building Regulations. Some people have even advocated that Part P should be revoked as a burdensome requirement on competent electricians. We disagree – Part P has been a success – but we do recognise that there is scope to streamline the requirements.’
Don Foster’s Written Ministerial Statement stressed the importance of complying with Part P through the use of a competent electrician, urging anyone that may be inexperienced to always consult a professional. He has also proposed to introduce an alternative route for third party certification, claiming that it would; ‘safeguard standards whilst allowing for a far cheaper way of verifying work is adequate – particularly for those carrying out DIY work.’
Commenting on the changes to Part P, NAPIT chief operating officer Martin Bruno said, ‘We are pleased to see that Mr Foster has acknowledged the success of Part P in enhancing safety in the home and it is very positive to see that the government has elected to streamline rather than scrap this important set of regulations. We believe that Mr Foster has really listened to the views expressed by industry bodies in the consultations that preceded this announcement and that the new Approved Document has succeeded in simplifying Part P without compromising on safety.
‘The most notable change to Part P sees the reduction of notifiable work in areas previously deemed to be higher risk – mainly due to proximity to water – such as kitchens and outdoor installations. Although, on the face of it, the regulations have changed, despite the fact that the risks involved remain the same, in reality, little fundamental change has occurred. Though less work is now notifiable to LABC – eliminating the cost of producing Building Regulations Compliance Certificates for some minor works – the new regulations retain the need to issue Electrical Installation Certificates for all work carried out within a dwelling. So the important point is that, despite streamlining Part P, the new document’s emphasis on continued compliance with BS7671 means that the safety afforded to the consumer remains largely unaltered. This is the point we want to emphasise to our members and to all Competent Electricians. All work must be carried out to the same high standards, even if it is not notifiable under the new Regulations.
‘We also commend Mr Foster on the proposed move towards third-party certification of electrical work. This is something we, along with LABC, have been advocating for a long time and something we pushed for during the consultation stage. But the rules for such an Approved Inspector Scheme, which have yet to be announced, must be well informed and robust. Whilst we await full details of DCLG’s plans, NAPIT has always maintained that individual competence is the key to electrical safety and third-party certification could mean new opportunities for Competent Persons without compromising this principle.
‘Following our meeting with the Minister in November 2012, we find Mr Foster’s commitment, to “working closely with partners to promote the importance of using a suitably qualified electrician”, very encouraging. NAPIT have been working hard through a number of different channels – such as the Electrical Safety Roundtable (ESR) and ElectricSafe Register – to promote precisely this message.’
NAPIT will continue to uphold the highest standard of electrical safety, promoting the maintenance and improvement of standards at all levels. Through ongoing work, including the Electrical Safety Roundtable and the ElectricSafe Register, NAPIT will continue to promote Competent Persons direct to the consumer and lobby for greater enforcement of the Building Regulations.