A GWENT council is to begin a two-year programme to rid its schools of asbestos.

Caerphilly County Borough Council aims to remove asbestos-containing materials from 37 of its schools. The £800,000 project – laid before the council cabinet’s meeting last Wednesday – will see amosite asbestos products removed from occupied areas of school buildings around the county.

Asbestos insulation boards are commonly in many of the affected schools and will be removed from ceilings, wall panels and vent shafts to reduce the risk of accidental disturbance.

Following investigations in April 2012, Caerphilly schools which were constructed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, were advised they must seek permission prior to undertaking work on the fabric of the school building.

Asbestos was routinely used as fire protection in the construction industry in this era and as the asbestos is concealed, any work undertaken may inadvertently disturb the asbestos product.

The councillors were told that robust arrangements were already place to manage asbestos in schools in compliance with legal requirements.

The first phase of works will address works required in 24 ‘category two’ schools, which have amosite containing products in low-level areas such as asbestos wall boards in classrooms.

Currently the asbestos-containing material in these schools is undamaged and staff have been made fully aware of the procedures to follow should damage take place.

Once completed, the programme of works will see 95 per cent of Caerphilly county borough schools free from amosite asbestos products within occupied areas of the school building. The remaining five per cent of schools affected will have their amosite asbestos materials boarded over and sealed.

Cabinet members agreed funding for the asbestos removal works and commended the proactive work of the council to remove this risk from school buildings. The education capital health and safety budget together with corporate health and safety unallocated reserves, will be used to fund the works.

The recommendations put to council to remove the materials are to be completed by December 2016.

Eight schools were listed as already being asbestos-free.