22 October 1999

November ban will outlaw asbestos in building materials

USE of both second-hand and new building materials containing asbestos is banned under legislation which takes effect next month.

Asbestos has been extensively used in farm buildings for more than 50 years, and was often included with cement in cladding materials, roofing tiles, gutters and drain pipes, as well as lagging materials and fire retardant coatings.

Materials containing asbestos which are already in existing buildings can remain in use, the only exception to this being when the materials are actually releasing asbestos fibres. If the building is dismantled the new regulations, effective from Nov 24, make it illegal to sell or even give away the asbestos-containing materials. Instead they must be transported in a sealed skip or container to a specially licensed dump. Tony Hutchinson, secretary of the Rural Design and Building Association, says the new regulations will severely restrict the trade in second-hand building materials.

"I think there are very few farms in the UK which have no buildings constructed with materials containing asbestos," he says. "As long as these materials are not actually releasing fibres – which is unlikely – there is no problem. The main effect of the new regulations will be on farmers who want to raise some extra money by dismantling a disused building and selling the materials.

"The new regulations will completely block the trade in second-hand building materials which contain asbestos. Instead of being able to sell them, farmers are likely to face quite a substantial cost for getting rid of them at a licensed dump," says Mr Hutchinson. &#42