The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) is continuing its fight for additional help on energy bills for aquatic businesses, after the sector was excluded from the government support package for heavy users.
The new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, which replaces the current scheme when it ends in March, will give a small per-unit discount to eligible non-domestic consumers for 12 months from April 2023 to March 2024. Some industries deemed to be heavy energy users will receive additional levels of discount but, despite representations, the aquatics industry has not been included in this list.
OATA chief executive Dominic Whitmee maintained that it was an animal welfare priority, as well as a business issue, for the sector to be included in the scope of the extra support measures, and pledged to continue to make the case to the government.
He said: “It is of course welcome that help will continue to be available to businesses, but we do find it very strange that energy heavy businesses such as aquatics have not got additional support, particularly when, for example, manufacturers of knitted and crocheted fabrics and hosiery do get chosen!
“At its heart, this is an animal welfare issue because aquatics businesses cannot choose to turn down the heating, lighting, pumps and filters which must run all day, every day to ensure the welfare of the animals in their care.”
He continued: “We are making further representations to highlight this, and have written to the Prime Minister, Defra and BEIS departments because we believe our sector has a far greater case for additional support than many currently listed.
“We would also urge businesses to ask their MPs to advocate on their behalf to get aquatics listed for extra support and have created a letter to personalise which can be found on our website.”
OATA was established in 1991 and currently represents more than 800 members from across the ornamental aquatic industry, from importers and wholesalers to suppliers and retailers.
Businesses can read more about the scheme and find the MP’s letter on OATA’s website.