Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray has assured the public that public buildings in Scotland containing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) do not pose an immediate safety risk to occupants, including school pupils and hospital patients.
The Scottish Government is currently conducting investigations to determine the extent of buildings in Scotland constructed with this concrete that may be at risk of collapse. While Raac has been identified in 35 schools across the country, local authorities are also examining its presence in other structures, including hospitals and social housing.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show program, Mr. Gray stated, “Since there is currently no imminent threat to anyone utilizing these facilities, we will continue to help our local authority partners, NHS boards, and other organizations that have Raac in their structures to keep things that way. If there are problems, measures will be taken to safeguard everyone’s safety.”
The concerns surrounding Raac gained prominence after the UK Government confirmed the closure of 104 schools in England due to the presence of this material. It was notably linked to the collapse of a primary school roof in Kent in 2018. Raac was utilized in construction from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, and according to the Institute of Structural Engineers, it will only require replacement if it is deemed to be in poor condition and at a high risk of collapse.
Mr. Gray added, “There is no reason to believe that the safety concern has changed in the previous weeks. Obviously, there are checks ongoing, including intrusive checks because some of this material is deeply embedded in the structure of buildings, and such assessments take time.”
No Plans for School Closures
First Minister Humza Yousaf stated on Saturday that Scottish ministers currently have no plans to close affected schools “at this stage.” Instead, local authorities are expected to prioritize remedial work in public buildings where Raac is found. This may include room or building closures and the use of temporary modular provisions for school pupils.