Byatt wants water pipes opened up to competition

New proposals to force water companies to open their pipeline networks to competition have been submitted to the Government by Ian Byatt, the water industry regulator.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Byatt said yesterday he planned to use the Government's Competition Bill to promote so-called "common carriage," where competitors can gain access to water company pipes. The new Bill would give utility regulators and the Office of Fair Trading the power to intervene to ban anti-competitive behaviour.

"If a company were to unreasonably deny the use of its pipes that could be held to be a breach of competition," said Mr Byatt. Previous plans to connect pipeline networks of different water groups were unveiled by the last Government, but Mr Byatt said there were still "sitting on ministers' desks."

But Jeremy Bryan, managing director of Envirologic, the consultancy group which has pioneered water competition, questioned whether common carriage was the best way to achieve competition. "Some water company pipes are 100 years old and leak like a sieve. If you put high quality water in one end it won't come out that way at the other end."

Mr Byatt also said he expected to give the go-ahead to a landmark competition scheme by Enviro-Logic before Christmas. It would take over the provision of water and sewerage services to Shotton Paper in Wales, one of the largest newsprint producers, from Welsh Water.

Mr Byan, who has spent five years bombarding Ofwat, the water watchdog, with competition proposals, said he was ready to begin work on the scheme as soon as he received a "green light" from the regulator.

Mr Byatt also issued a warning to water companies over the next five year price cap, which he has already said will see a substantial one-off cut in customer bills in 2000. He said the most efficient water companies would face the biggest cut in revenues, which analysts have predicted will be at least 10 per cent.

"A company which has done well in the current five year period would have a big cut to benefit customers," said Mr Byatt, adding that in the following four years of the price cap the company would face a less stringent regime than inefficient water groups.

The regulator also made clear the principle of a one-off cut was not negotiable, despite demands by the Environment Agency that the revenues should be redirected to investment in environmental improvements.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links