The Red Book giving the fine detail on budget proposals reveals that the Government has set out five tests for eligibility to negotiate discounts and any industry that meets these requirements will be able to do so through its trade association. The tests are:

1. the sector must be energy intensive

2. there must be a clear rationale to identify the industry

3. it must be administratively simple and legally robust

4. any agreement must be consistant with EU state aid rules

5. the sector must be subject to significant international competition.

The last condition is the “golden rule”, says Murray Simpson, but it is also the most difficult for the laundry industry to prove.

He believed though that the TSA could do this.”Some laundries do compete with overseas companies in matters such as airline business.

“More importantly, the industry also competes directly with the international paper industry in the supply of areas such as napery and hand drying.”

A meeting is already being set up with the treasury to discuss whether the laundry industry iseligible to enter the scheme through the TSA.

The next stage would be to sit down with DEFRA to negotiate targets. The TSA already has a broad proposal on the first target of 16% overall reduction of energy use in the industry over 10 years.

If the laundry industry can prove its eligibility, the scheme would have to be open to all “industrial” laundries” (launderettes would not be covered), whether or not they were members of the TSA. However, there will be an administrative charge for entry and associations will be able to charge non-members more.

After three years of lobbying, the TSA would seem to have gained a successful result, but Mr Simpson is still cautious: “I don’t want to raise expectations because we still have a big hurdle to overcome.”