HC Deb 15 March 2004 vol 419 cc60-1W
Mr. Donaldson

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make legislative provision for(a) radon tests to be carried out on (i) old and (ii) new homes and (b) to require a radon test certificate to be furnished at the time of conveyancing. [161517]

Phil Hope

There are no plans for legislation to require radon testing of homes.

(i) In the case of homes built without radon protection, successive governments have run a radon measurement programme to identify the extent of the radon problem. In the last eight years it has mainly focused on homes likely to be at most risk. In England, where the problem is estimated to be greatest, and in Northern Ireland, that has meant every home with a greater than 5 per cent. probability of having radon concentrations at or above the National Radiological Protection Board recommended level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air, has been offered a free radon test. The Government's current programme continues to offer free tests to the homes at most at risk. This targeting has encouraged the more at risk householders to undertake radon remediation. This is an approach that has been tested and shown that it can double the amount of remediation in homes where there is greatest risk from this naturally occurring radioactive gas.

Under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's proposals for home information packs, the pack is likely to include information on whether the property is located within a radon affected area. Issues of practicality and cost suggest that it would not be appropriate to require radon testing as part of a statutory home information pack scheme. However, this will be considered further by specialist working groups that are being set up to consider the contents of the pack before any final decisions are taken.

(ii) Post completion tests of houses that include radon measures had demonstrated that he level of protection is adequate and it would be uneconomic to test every house. Of the few houses where the radon levels have risen after occupation all but one were due to alterations to the house and the increase level in the remaining house was due to the use of a method of protection that is not recommended in official guidance.

(b) The revised questions in the searches form used in conveyancing are much more pointed in relation to radon and ask about radon tests and radon proofing. As the standardised procedures relating to house purchases address radon much more effectively than was the case in the past, there is no case to require test certificates through legislation.