Contractors at fault as roofs collapse

Environment Minster Andreas Carlgren has urged tighter checks on building contractors in the wake of a Swedish winter pockmarked by more than 110 collapsed roofs.

Contractors at fault as roofs collapse

The minister pledged the imminent introduction of amendments to Sweden’s construction and planning laws following a meeting on Thursday with a range of government agencies.

Snow levels recorded this winter in no way exceeded the projections that form the basis for accepted construction norms, said Carlgren.

“It’s not acceptable that the roofs have collapsed on buildings that are supposed to be able to house the general public,” he said, following a winter that has seen roofs cave in on everything from vast supermarkets to a range of sports halls.

The SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, a company wholly owned by the Swedish state, assured the minister that snow was not the real villain of the piece. Instead, the extreme weather conditions have exposed major shortcomings in construction and maintenance procedures across the country.

“Constructions are hard to judge; very rigorous checks are necessary,” said SP divisional manager Carl-Johan Johansson, who added that roofs tend to collapse with great alacrity once the chain of events has been set in motion.

Mats Björs, head of trader organisation the Swedish Construction Clients Forum (Byggherrarna), said he would welcome any legislative changes, though he also believed the majority of contractors took proper responsibility for checking up on their work.

“But there are probably lots of contractors who don’t even know they have this responsibility, so it could be good to turn on the pressure,” he said.

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Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Several places around Sweden broke temperature records over the weekend, as unusually warm weather for March bathed the northern half of the country.

Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Torpshammar, near Sundsvall in Västernorrland, on Sunday recorded a temperature of 16.8C.

This was the highest temperature registered anywhere in the country so far this year, although Gävle and Delsbo in Gävleborg were close behind, with both recording a temperature of 16.7C. 

“It’s been warm across the country, but it’s been mostly in the middle and north of Norrland that we’ve had temperatures that are a long way above normal,” Ida Dahlström, a meteorologist with state weather forecaster SMHI, told the TT newswire.

For Delsbo 16.7C is the highest temperature recorded in March since records began in 1898. The cities of Kiruna and Umeå, and the harbour town of Örskär, where records began in 1898, 1858, and 1937 respectively, also all set new March records.

Gäddede and Frösön, both close to the Norwegian border in Jämtland, registered the warmest March day since 1945, while the nearby Storlien registered the warmest March day since 1881.

Dahlström said that cold wind would soon bring an end to the balmy temperatures, with snow expected on Tuesday in many of the central parts of Sweden currently enjoying unusual spring warmth. 

Last year, Sweden recorded the third-hottest June on record, with Stockholm seeing its hottest ever month.

“June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in my hometown Stockholm, by a large margin,” climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted at the time. “The second hottest June was in 2020. The third in 2019,” she added.

“Am I sensing a pattern here? Nah, probably just another coincidence.”