Self-lay providers are "alarmed" because they fear that Ofwat's implementation of new water connection charging rules could damage the viability of their businesses.
The self-lay provider's association, Fair Water Connections, has warned that its members businesses could be at risk once each water company publishes its new charging arrangements next February with each one possibly choosing different arrangements.
The association has condemned the regulators "cavalier" approach to the introduction of new rules. The association's managing coordinator said: "We have spent months discussing high level frameworks but Ofwat is now leaving each water company free to implement their own charges."
FWC has warned that there will be "effectively, no time for meaningful consultations to take place around the changes." The association said the lack of time will arise because water companies will not be able to make their preparations until Ofwat publishes its rules which are not due until the autumn. Self lay providers, could, according to the FWC "end up watching work opportunities pass while waiting for Ofwat to react to a plethora of new charging arrangements which could disadvantage competitive water connection provision”.
Self-lay providers said Ofwat's "rushed implementation, without a consultation governance structure", would "greatly disrupt the connections market" and could halt working for "many years" while issues are resolved.
The association accepted that charging against a set of rules could "address weaknesses in the
current, legislation-based, way that developers pay for new water supplies. It said that
"properly thought through charging rules" could bring advantages for the competitive
water connections market.
But it aid its members had growing concerns that many water companies were
"not sufficiently transparent or customer focused in their connection charging" which was an expectation underpinning the new arrangements.