A new group which will tackle the threats surrounding the traditional car wash industry is to be launched this month by the Association of Convenience Stores, Forecourt Trader has learned.

Fighting on behalf of responsible car wash operators, its main challenges will be the threat from illegal car washers, who continue to flout environmental legislation and are therefore competing at an unfair advantage to established forecourt car wash facilities.

Another key issue is drought orders, which became a major concern last year and could be again this year with the current record temperatures being claimed for April.

The new group would tackle future drought orders that might put impossible restrictions on responsible car wash operators. Car washing is a key profit centre for many forecourts and retailers are seriously concerned about the impact of these threats on their businesses.

The ACS believes responsible businesses should be able to operate on a level playing field, and that there should be greater enforcement of existing car wash regulations.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, confirmed that discussions had been held with a number of forecourt car wash operators - most recently at the International Fuel and Forecourt Equipment exhibition - and he was expecting to be in a position to make a formal announcement about the new group this month.

"Illegal car washers and drought orders are a serious threat to this market and deserve a serious response," he said.

Lowman’s comments follow the huge growth of unregulated hand car wash businesses, which are set up with little regard to legislation, often allowing chemicals to leak into the water system.