Two Southern Water bosses handed eye-watering bonuses totalling £840,000

TWO bosses at Southern Water were handed bonuses of more than £840,000 despite the company being prosecuted for releasing sewage into waterways.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:09 pm
Southern Water's Budds Farm sewage treatment works.

Bosses were keen to point out these were ‘historic incidents’ and have pledged a £1bn package of improvements.

But just last week the Environment Agency said its environmental performances remains ‘consistently unacceptable’.

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Ian McAuley

Now financial accounts for Southern Water show its chief executive Ian McAulay - brought in to ensure change in the organisation - was handed a £550,900 bonus in 2020/21.

Mr McAulay has a £435,000-a-year salary and with pension payments and benefits secured a £1.082m pay package.

Chief finance officer Sebastiaan Boelen was handed a £290,800 bonus on top of his £300,000 salary - taking him up to £650,200 when other benefits are included.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: ‘It cannot be right that whilst senior executives of Southern Water are taking bonuses, it continues to be one of the worst performing water companies in England when it comes to protecting our environment, including sewage discharge into Langstone Harbour.

‘It claims to be a “changed company” since its admission to the 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015, which resulted in a record £90m fine, but its record speaks for itself.

‘This is the second year in a row Southern Water has performed below target, with the Environment Agency labelling Southern Water’s performance as “consistently unacceptable during the last five years” in its latest report and that it was “significantly below target (red) for the EPA sewerage incidents metric”.

‘Profit should never come before principle and urgent action is now needed.’

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Southern Water’s own data shows there were 3,188 spills in Hampshire in 2020 – up from 1,001 in 2017.

Among them is 26 spills at Budds Farm, where they lasted for a combined 1,148 hours.

These spills were caused by storm overflows and when flows through the treatment centre exceeded what the facility could cope with, the company said. Spills are at times needed to prevent sewage coming up through sinks and toilets, it added.

In response, the company said Mr McAulay joined in 2017 – after the period of wastewater spills involved in the £90m fine – and requested his base salary remain unchanged fat £435,000 a year.

He also asked for a reduction in bonus range two years ago, which was put in place. The bonus reflects progress made, and the company’s response to challenges, it said.

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