Plans to extend competition in the water industry in England and Wales have taken an important step forward with the publication of a consultation document on the framework that will enable new companies to compete in the supply of water to large businesses. The consultation seeks views on suggested changes to the appointment conditions of existing water companies, and on proposals for conditions to be included in licenc4es granted to new suppliers.

Business customers who are likely to use a minimum of 50 million litres of water a year will be able to choose their supplier, because of the extension to competition as a result of the Water Act 2003. This will affect some 2,300 customers who collectively spend about £200 million a year on water. Prospective suppliers will be able to apply for a water supply licence in summer 2005, in advance of the new competition rules coming into operation in autumn 2005.

www.ofwat.gov.uk