Southern Water chief’s £500k bonus branded ‘ridiculous’ after record fine for pollution

·2-min read
Ashford MP Damian Green said he is “very angry” about the bonus (PA)
Ashford MP Damian Green said he is “very angry” about the bonus (PA)

A Tory MP has labelled a £550,900 bonus for the chief executive of Southern Water “ridiculous” after the company was recently fined £90 million for dumping sewage illegally.

Ian McAuley’s total renumeration, including salary and other benefits, is closer to £1 million and was revealed in the company’s Annual Report.

Ashford MP Damian Green told the BBC he was “very angry” about the sum of money. He added: “Getting a bonus when your company is being fined £90m is ridiculous.”

Earlier this month Southern Water pleaded guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges - the equivalent to one pipe leaking continuously for seven years.

Tonnes of sewage polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex between 2010 and 2015, a court heard.

Passing sentence, the Honourable Mr Justice Johnson said, of the formal 51 guilty pleas, that the company’s behaviour had been “shocking”.

Bosses deliberately painted a misleading picture of compliance to the Environment Agency, which brought the criminal prosecution, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

And some of the dumping hit conservation sites, causing major environmental harm to shellfish waters.

The criminal prosecution follows a £126 million penalty on SouthernWater in 2019 as a result of the company’s regulatory failings over the same period.

At the time Mr McAulay said the company was “deeply sorry” for the “historical incidents” that led to the sentencing and fine.

The company was also ranked as one of the worst water companies for environmental performance in an annual report from the Environmental Agency.

The missive from the government agency has found that none of the nine English water and sewerage companies had achieved all the environmental expectations set out for them for 2015 to 2020.

But Southern Water and South West Water were the worst for environmental performance, with the Environment Agency warning their performance in looking after the environment has been “unacceptable”.

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “The fine covers 2010 -2015 while Ian McAulay joined in 2017 with a mandate to transform the company.

“As the transformation continues and at his own request Ian’s base salary has remained unchanged at £435,000 for the last three years.

“He also requested a reduction in bonus range two years ago and this was implemented.

“His bonus reflects the progress made in the business as well as reflecting the challenges the business faces and areas where targets were not achieved. “

Additional reporting by PA

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