Greater enforcement of existing car wash regulations is being demanded of the government by the Association of Convenience Stores. Chief executive, James Lowman, said: "There needs to be greater enforcement against rogue operators who regularly flout environmental and health and safety laws."

His comments follow the huge growth of unregulated hand car wash businesses across the country. Many ACS members operate car washes on their forecourts and are concerned about the impact that unregulated hand car washes are having on their businesses.

"There are many strict environmental and safety regulations that mechanical car wash operators must adhere to, including disposing of the dirty water safely, and Health and Safety requirements," said Lowman.

"Many hand car washes are set up with little regard to environmental or health and safety legislation, allowing chemicals to leak into the water system, and putting staff and customers at risk. These unregulated car washes gain an unfair advantage over others by not following the regulations, as well as damaging the environment.

"We believe that responsible businesses should operate on a level playing field, and it is the government and the enforcement agencies’ responsibility to ensure that those who play by the rules are not penalised.

"ACS is in talks to resolve this situation and create a level playing field for all car wash operators."