Goodbye Wales?

Here’s a question: who is responsible for setting the building regulations in Wales?

Easy. With effect from 31st December 2011 it’s the Welsh Government. According to SI 2009/3019 The Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions)(No. 2) Order 2009:

(1) The following functions are, so far as exercisable in relation to Wales, transferred to the Welsh Ministers —
(a) functions conferred or imposed on the Secretary of State by or under the 1984 Act [that is the The Building Act 1984].

Those functions include the power to make building regulations (section 1 of The Building Act 1984) and to issue Approved Documents (section 6 of The Building Act 1984). There are, of course, exceptions: the transfer doesn’t include:

  • functions relating to excepted energy buildings,
  • functions exercised by the Secretary of State as a Crown authority (section 44(5) of the 1984 Act[1])
  • the power of the Secretary of State to appoint a day for a modification to cease to have an effect or to come into force (sections 42(7) and 134(1) of the 1984 Act[2]).

What is an excepted energy building? The Statutory Instrument needs a page and a half to define that, but, in summary, it is an electricity generating station or powerline, or a gas pipeline or underground storage facility, which requires development consent under the Planning Act 2008.

So, apart from those exceptions, it’s down to the Welsh Government. Which makes the recent amendment regulations to the Building Regulations[3] more interesting. Section 1 paragraph 2 states:

These Regulations extend to England and Wales.

Oh. England and Wales. That’s a bit of a surprise. But don’t worry, paragraph 3 goes on to say:

Subject to paragraph (4), these Regulations do not apply in relation to any building in Wales, other than an excepted energy building.

That’s all right then. It’s just the excepted energy building, which we already knew about. So the amendment Regulations don’t apply to any other building in Wales? Well, there’s that ominous subject to paragraph (4).

What does paragraph (4) say?

Regulations 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23 apply in relation to:
(a) educational buildings and buildings of statutory undertakers in Wales;
(b) Crown buildings in Wales; and
(c) building work carried out or proposed to be carried out by Crown authorities in Wales.

To summarise that very roughly: some of the amendment regulations made by the Secretary of State apply to some buildings in Wales. So to come back to my first question: who makes building regulations for Wales?

The Welsh Government, with the Secretary of State nudging the pen every now and again. In the next instalment we’ll see what those pen nudges mean.

  1. Where— (a) work is carried out or proposed to be carried out by or on behalf of a Crown authority, or (b) a Crown authority is or (apart from any dispensation or relaxation) will be subject to continuing requirements, that authority may exercise the like powers of dispensing with or relaxing the substantive requirements of building regulations or, as the case may be, the continuing requirements in question as are conferred on the Secretary of State and local authorities by virtue of section 8 above…  ↩
  2. This is a power which relates to the right of appeal where a local authority refuses to relax a requirement of building regulations.  ↩
  3. The Building Regulations &c. (Amendment) Regulations 2012.  ↩