The move marks the next step in forcing developers and the supply chain firms to contribute towards tackling the building safety crisis in high-rise flats.
In a strongly worded letter to chairman Gene Murtagh, Gove writes: “I have long argued that those who manufactured flammable products and sold them have a moral and financial imperative to recognise their role in the proliferation of unsafe buildings.
“The testimony at the Grenfell Tower inquiry uncovered shameful practices and an abhorrent culture of disregard for the safety of residents in their homes.
“I was appalled by the evidence heard by the enquiry about the reckless and deceptive behaviours within your company.”
His letter was prompted by a report in the Observer newspaper suggesting that Kingspan was willing to pay where its products were inappropriately used on buildings.
I have written to cladding firm Kingspan following their claim that they are willing to take financial responsibility for their role in the Grenfell tragedy & building safety crisis. I hope they will urgently meet with my officials to discuss this following their record profits👇 pic.twitter.com/Gptl3gw1wu
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) March 28, 2023
Gove added: “I sincerely hope this is a first step only, in what should be a comprehensive package of financial support from Kingspan and other product manufacturers.
“Your record trading profit of £382.8m will, I presume, help to fund this commitment.
“Those companies who do not share our commitment to righting the wrongs of the past must expect to face commercial consequences.
“I look forward to hearing from you before Easter.”
In response, Kingspan issued a statement this morning saying that its K15 insulation was safe to use when installed correctly in appropriate external wall systems.
This had been underlined by recent BSI guidance (PAS 9980), sponsored by the UK Government, which supported the retention of K15 in appropriate circumstances.
It added: “Kingspan continues to stand by our commitment:
- pay our share of remediation costs where we have responsibility for the inappropriate use of K15 in a high-rise residential building, and its safe retention cannot be supported by testing.
- To contribute to an appropriate joint Government and industrywide funding mechanism such as an industry levy, that is equitable and shared across the entire construction industry, to support the wider fire safety issues on buildings where those responsible can’t or won’t pay.
- We are also committed to constructive dialogue and welcome further engagement with our trade associations and the Department.
Kingspan added: “Expert evidence at the Inquiry demonstrates that the Arconic cladding panels on the exterior of the building – which were not made by Kingspan – were the entirely dominant factor in the nature and speed of the spread of the Grenfell Tower fire, not the combustibility of the insulation.
“Kingspan did not supply or recommend the use of its K15 insulation on the Grenfell Tower refurbishment, which made up only 5% of the insulation layer purchased for use and was entirely inappropriate for use in a cladding system with a polyethelene-cored ACM.”