A REVIEW of collapse-risk concrete in Scottish schools will take “some months”, the First Minister has said.

Humza Yousaf stressed there would be interim measures in place to deal with any risks identified during the review, should they come up.

Officials will carry out a desk-based review of buildings but the First Minister said that inspectors would investigate sites if they were identified as being at risk.

It is not yet clear how many buildings fall within the scope of the review, but reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) is known to have been used in construction between the 1950s and 1990s.

The material is prone to deterioration and can contribute to the collapse of a building, or parts of a building after a certain point. 

The National: Humza Yousaf

The Scottish Government said last week it was aware of 35 schools in the country where the material is present. 

Raac has been found in more than 100 schools in England and some have closed over safety fears.

READ MORE: What is RAAC concrete? The concrete that could cause schools to collapse

The UK Government puts the figure in England in the hundreds but analysis by the PA news agency showed as many 1100 schools could be affected, based on the Prime Minister’s statement that around 95% of the school estate south of the Border was unaffected.

'Evolving picture' 

Yousaf told PA: “It was important to do the desk-based review, but it’s also fair to say that where NHS sites, in particular, feel there needs to be a physical investigation, then there will be a physical investigation if that’s required.

“Given the size of the estate we’re looking at, not just the NHS but the public sector estate, it will take some months to complete that fully.

“But, of course, it’s not a binary, it’s an evolving picture,” he added, claiming that “appropriate mitigations” will be put in place when the concrete is found.

He added: “Local authorities have given us returns for around 35 schools that tell us they have Raac in them and mitigations have been put in place to ensure that there is no immediate safety concerns for either the pupils or the staff that work there.”

Similar circumstances are found in health boards, he said, with staff “not waiting for the review to be completed” before taking action.

The First Minister’s comments come the day after one of his ministers said there was “no immediate risk” to the public concerning Raac.

'No immediate risk' 

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said: “At the moment, there is no immediate risk to people using these buildings and that is why we continue to support our local authority partners, NHS boards and others, that have Raac in their buildings to ensure that remains the case, and if there are issues to be resolved, that mitigations are taken to ensure people’s safety.”

The National: Neil Gray

Louise Gilmour, Scotland secretary of trade union GMB, asked why schools had been closed in England, but the Scottish Government did not see fit to follow suit.

“So far, in Scotland, there are many questions but far too few answers,” she said.

“Exactly what safety checks have been done in Scotland and, if buildings have been checked, does the crisis unfolding in England demand those buildings are revisited?

READ MORE: Check Scottish social housing for collapse-risk concrete, ministers urged

“Why has the UK Government taken such dramatic action when, in Scotland, ministers offer only reassurance?

“In the absence of hard, detailed information about the risk assessments already undertaken then blithe reassurance is a recipe for confusion and uncertainty.

“Have ministers in England received advice and safety warnings that ministers here have not?

“The Scottish Government, education authorities, the NHS and every other public body must act with transparency and urgency to detail what checks have been made and what risks have been found.”

Meanwhile, freedom of information requests from the Scottish LibDems show a number of universities and colleges have been impacted – with both Aberdeen University and Edinburgh University both reporting that eight of their buildings have been impacted.

'Time for action' 

Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish LibDems called for Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth to meet with education leaders.

The National: Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

“Across Scotland we are finding more and more examples of this potentially dangerous concrete in use,” he said.

“We knew it was in schools, NHS buildings and police stations, now we know that it is present across our higher and further education campuses.

“Many of these colleges and universities have taken precautions to reduce the risk but with new evidence from England suggesting that even sites previously deemed safe can catastrophically collapse, it is time for the Scottish Government to come up with a proper plan of action for resolving this issue for good.

“The Education Secretary should be meeting with education leaders this week to discuss a rescue plan and funding for remedial work. Anything less would be an appalling dereliction of duty.

“The Scottish Government have known about the risks this concrete poses for a long time. It’s time for action to ensure that students and staff are safe.”

The Chancellor has pledged to make available funds to refurbish schools which contain the material, though a spokesperson for the Prime Minister on Monday told journalists it was not yet know exactly where this money would come from.