Changes set to open up choice of water supplier for horticulture businesses

Horticultural businesses across England will soon be able to shop around for lower bills under changes that are set to sweep the water sector, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which is spearheading efforts to raise awareness of the opening of the non-household retail water market in England from April 2017.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

The changes will give 1.2 million businesses and other non-household customers in England the freedom to switch water retailer. These provide customer-facing services including billing, meter reading and handling complaints and enquiries.

But the consumer watchdog is concerned that many businesses could miss out on the potential benefits of switching, with only eight per cent of customers currently aware of the changes. CCWater's research shows that awareness is particularly low among small and medium-sized businesses.

CCWater policy manager Evan Joanette said: "We don't want any business to miss out on potential benefits because they were unaware of these changes. The industry needs to work together to make sure customers understand how the market will operate and could affect their business. We'll be doing all we can to ensure this is the case."

Competition could open up opportunities for growers, manufacturers and other horticulture businesses, particularly among organisations that use a lot of mains water. Businesses might be enticed to switch to a new retailer that can help them manage mains water usage to deliver bill savings. Sites with irrigation may want help from a retailer that specialises in locating leaks. Even retail stores could benefit financially by receiving one single consolidated bill for all their sites.

- See

Expert view - Proposed charges, competitive cost and smart metering

Nursery consultant John Adlam said: "At present a business can shop around for the best price from various providers of gas and electricity and now they will be able to do the same with water. This comes into force on 1 April 2017. It will not affect the pipe coming into the nursery or the meter.

"Many of the water companies are setting up a separate company for business water supply. I can find a few price examples of proposed charges after April 2017. South East Water, eastern region, £1.6264/cu m, which at present is £1.5884. I guess we will see a price increase in the cost of water but we now have the ability to shop around.

"We anticipate the cost of water will become competitive. It will also introduce a new concept — maximum demand. If you use more than 10,000cu m a year you will be placed on a tariff that takes account of sudden peaks of demand, like breakfast, lunch and tea. This means that growers would need to look at the size of their tanks to see if they can avoid taking water from the mains during those periods.

"Smart metering could, in response to a lower price, cut off the supply to the irrigation tank during peak-demand periods. This could be practical for growers to reduce the cost of mains water for irrigation. Water for washing, toilets and cafés would not be affected. It will also mean a garden centre or nursery may end up having two separate accounts for water and sewerage."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

The UK fresh-produce sector has reacted with dismay at the latest developments in the ongoing debate, largely conducted out of public view, on whether UK horticulture will still have access to seasonal migrant workers when the UK leaves the EU in 18 months' time.

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, a new report argues.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon