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Experts have warned that the Houses of Parliament are a ‘fire risk’ and could face a destructive loss of power unless a full refurbishment is carried out, according to a report from the BBC.
The 150 year-old Grade I listed building is reportedly partly sinking, with cables at risk of ‘degrading’ and pipe work that is over 40 years old. Additionally, parts of the buildings are rife with asbestos.
The Palace of Westminster has been maintained through a programme of rolling repairs for decades, but this system is apparently not suitable to tackle the large backlog of maintenance issues.
A report published in 2015 outlined that a full refurbishment that allowed MPs and Peers to continue using the buildings would take 32 years and cost up to £5.7 billion, where as an alternative would see MPs moved out for six years why restoration took place, costing a total of around £3.5 billion.
A decision on what will be done with the building will be voted on by the Commons and Lords in the next few years, with no plan currently in place for how the restoration work will be carried out.
Nick Mead, president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, said that relocating MPs and Peers was the ‘most straightforward’ option.
He said: “Electrical cables have a life, 15 to 20 years. You have a number of hidden cables. You don't know the state they are in. The worst consequence is a fire and the catastrophic effect of that, given the amount of wood and finishes in this building.
“But there is also the more destructive nature. If you were to lose your power in the middle of a debate or you lost your lighting, the consequences of that. The pipe work is of an age where it corrodes from the inside. You will suddenly get a leak, a loss of heat.”
It is no mystery that there is a huge task at hand to solve the growing problems of waste, inefficient resources, and the disposal of hazardous materials as our communities develop.
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