Risks of fires and explosions in government’s plan to simplify licensing procedures

Engineers official body sounds new warning over controversial “Mais Habitação” housing programme

Government plans to stimulate the housing market have run into a new realm of controversy. Engineers are warning that measures simplifying licensing procedures – with the objective of making house prices more accessible – could lead to “very serious consequences”, including the “risks of fires and explosions”.

With the controversial housing programme still to be hotly debated in parliament – opposition parties are dead against measures affecting AL (tourist rentals), and the coercive renting of vacant habitable properties – engineers have looked at the small print in dismay. 

The “intention of the government to waive the need for an electrical project in most low-tension installations” has pushed all the professional alarm bells, explain reports.

Engineers alert to a “clear step backwards in security”

Right now, any electrical installation above 10.35 kVa has required a specific project to be drawn up by a project designer (invariably a costly process). The government’s intention is to change this limit. Projects would only be required for electrical installations above 41.4 kVa.

This means that a large part of low voltage electrical installations would escape this professional tier of scrutiny.

In a statement addressed to parliament, the Order of Engineers explains: “This decision is a clear step backwards for the safety of people and goods, contributing to anarchy in the execution of these special installations, which are increasingly important, particularly in the much talked about energy efficiency and transition.” 

Explains Público, the Order foresees serious consequences and an increase in construction costs, as well as “greater risks of fire and danger to people and animals” and “degradation of the quality of electrical installation services“.

And it’s not just one professional body sounding the alarm. The Order of Technical Engineers “shares the same opinion”, which it too has delivered to parliament:

“We have no doubt that the benefit of making electrical design compulsory for all new buildings is much greater than the added risk of dispensing with electrical design for powers under 41.4 kVA, in which case there will be a drastic increase in the risk of fires and explosions, endangering people’s lives and property,” says the text of the opinion.

The government’s Mais Habitação programme has been referred by President Marcelo for discussion in the House, as he himself has been one of its critics.

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