Pervasive public criticism over sewage pollution is the reason why the executives of three British water companies have decided not to accept their annual bonuses.
Along with South West Water's Susan Davy and Yorkshire Water's Nicola Shaw, Sarah Bentley of Thames Water stated that she did not feel right accepting the bonus. Campaigners have demanded that all British water company CEOs forego their bonuses.
Ms. Bentley received an incentive of £496,000 while Ms. Davy received $550,000. Ms. Shaw has only recently joined Yorkshire Water, which paid out £878,000 in director incentives last year. Thames Water's chief financial officer, Alastair Cochran, also declined his bonus, the company said.
The Liberal Democrats urged the British government in 2022 to prohibit compensation for water company executives until sewage violations ceased. According to the party's analysis, firms in England have paid roughly £27 million in bonuses to executives since 2020.
It was stated that the figures were "obscene" given that 1,000 sewage overflows were recorded daily in 2021. The regulator Ofwat identified Thames Water as one of the worst corporations for polluting waterways in the previous year.
A committee of the House of Lords stated in March that water company executives should not receive bonuses while targets are missing and the environment is polluted. It also criticized Ofwat for failing to ensure sufficient infrastructure investment by corporations.
The government has announced that it will require water companies to invest £56 million to modernize infrastructure that is, in many cases, decades old. Thames Water stated that it would invest £1.6 billion to modernize its sewerage infrastructure and increase the size of its team of leak engineers.
Ms. Bentley stated that in spite of the fact that the turnaround plan is not yet where he wants it to be, he did not it not feel it was right to accept his bonus this year. The Environment Agency (EA) instructed it in March to repair water breaches as part of its plans to combat drought issues.
South West Water has received comparable criticism. After admitting to causing pollution in Devon and Cornwall, it was penalized a record amount of over £2.1 million last month. In November, Cornwall Council instructed it to urgently address the impact of sewage water discharges by limiting bonuses and dividends rather than increasing consumer costs.
The company stated that the money Ms. Davy would have received would instead go directly to shareholders or be applied as a credit to customers' bills. According to Yorkshire Water's annual reports, Ms. Shaw could have received up to £800,000 if the company had reached its annual performance goals.
The Consumer Council for Water has applauded the decision of the three chief executives.
Emma Clancy, the chief executive officer, mentioned that bonuses contribute to people's current dissatisfaction with the water industry and they want much more openness and transparency on the issue. The Clean Rivers Trust, however, stated that a nationwide overhaul of the sewage system was required to accommodate the growing population.
"Sewers that are discharging must accept significantly more sewage as home construction continues, and the system cannot keep up," said director Harvey Wood. The sewage system in this country is in disrepair.