Industrial water users have written to Ofwat, asking the regulator to ensure that business does not pay the costs of environmental improvements being made by the water companies.
‘Business should not be penalised unfairly to satisfy government demands for higher environmental standards,’ said Sir John Hannam, political adviser to the Major Energy Users’ Council. MEUC represents energy users across a range of industries from chemicals producers to brewers.
Members claim their water bills have risen at alarming rates since water supply was privatised.
The lobby group fears that the latest government-led efficiency drive imposed on the water companies will lead to even higher charges for its members.
‘Many of our members argue that they are already helping suppliers pay for clean-ups because they are being severely overcharged,’ said Hannam.
Echoing Ofwat’s own criticism of a recent Government report into the water industry, Hannam said it was naive to assume that environmental improvements could be made without added costs for consumers.
The users’ action coincides with publication of research showing mounting concern by industry about water supplies.
Benchmark Research says that in the past two years the percentage of companies expressing fear of supply disruption has risen from just 6% to 21%. And more than 80% of water users now rate supply as ‘critical’ a proportion up from 61% in 1996.