Albion and Peel Water latest ‘small challengers’ to join Water UK

Albion Water and Peel Water have today become the latest companies to join trade association Water UK.

Albion and Peel operate under regulator Ofwat’s new appointments and variations (NAV) regime, which allows them to compete with the larger monopoly water companies to serve new developments or big single users.

Until now Veolia Water was the only inset company to be represented by   Water UK, which also represents all incumbent water companies.

Albion Water became the first new entrant to compete against monopoly water companies in England in 1999.

Albion Water’s chairman Jerry Bryan has said the company’s decision to join trade association Water UK is not at odds with its ethos.

Bryan told UtilityWeek: “It is not us selling out to the forces of the large monopolies; it is rather a sense that we have something to offer.

“It would be hypocritical if we were selling-out in terms of what we are trying to provide for our customers, which is a water service fit for the 21st Century.”

In March Albion won damages against Welsh Water of £1.6 million at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, after it was found that Welsh Water attempted to overcharge it for access to its network when it first entered the market.

In the past Bryan has described some in the water industry as “dinosaurs” who “cling to the status quo as long as they can”.

However, Bryan said a lot had changed since the legal wrangling began more than a decade ago and that the “timing was right” for a reappraisal.

“The main change in the market is that the government now sees competition as inevitable and sees the benefits of that.

“We have a different viewpoint, which others may not agree with but the debate is one that needs to take place,” he said.

According to Water UK, by taking on “smaller challengers” it will evolve with the industry, which is taking a more customer-focussed approach to setting prices, with competition in the retail sector due from April 2017.

Pamela Taylor, chief executive, Water UK, said: “Albion and Peel will give us different perspectives and new ideas – and will benefit from working in closer partnership with our existing members.

Peel Water Networks supplies Salford’s Media City while the Peel group owns canals, rivers and docks in Northern England.

Brendan Dolan, head of water at Peel Water, said that by joining Water UK the company “would be well placed to contribute positively as the industry develops”.