Ofwat finalises new rules for connections

Ofwat has published new rules for new water connections to housing developments which it claimed will be fairer, simpler and clearer than existing regulations. Ofwat has delayed the introduction of the rules to 12 months after the April 2017 start date proposed in its consultation on the changes. This, it said, was to allow the industry enough time to plan for the transition.

Under the revised rules, which apply only in England, water companies will offer more fixed charges which Ofwat said will make costs clearer and more transparent for developers. The rules will also that ensure developers will no longer pay for pre-existing issues and pay only for their use of assets that benefit a wider set of customers.

Ofwat said self-lay and new appointees will, under the new regime, be able to compete more effectively to put greater pressure on costs and to improve service and choice.

The regulator suggested the changes could speed up connections, because water firms will be able to set simpler charges that are quicker to calculate than existing charging schemes. Ofwat said this could make it easier for developers to plan accurately.

It said the April 2018 start date for the new rules would “help ensure that the new charging regime is implemented in a way that takes full account of – and is responsive to – customers’ views, and allow Water UK and the water companies in the sector to explore the possibility of a more harmonised approach to implementation, which would reduce the risk of arbitrary differences in companies’ implementation, whilst still allowing companies to introduce innovative tariffs."

Senior director at Ofwat, David Black, said: “Throughout our recent consultation, we heard widespread agreement about where we are trying to get to, but there was some concern that we are pushing ahead too quickly. We have listened to those concerns and built in an extra 12 months into the change process.”

Ofwat has established transitional arrangements to safeguard business cases for any existing developments.