The Sunday Times has published a piece juxtaposing the dire record of three companies in poisoning the nation’s rivers and lakes with the ongoing bonanza being enjoyed by their directors:
1. Severn Trent Water
“Liv Garfield, the chief executive of Severn Trent Water, has earned more than £17.3m since 2014, making her the highest-paid in the industry.
“Her pay package of £2.8m last year – including basic salary of £735,000, £166,500 in pension payments and other benefits and £1.9m in bonuses and incentives – means that she earned more than £12,000 a day.
“Last year, Severn Trent Water was fined £800,000 after pleading guilty to causing sewage to discharge into the Row Brook from the Acton Burnell treatment works in Shrewsbury.
“The offence came to light in 2016 when a man out walking his dog smelt a foul odour and saw a ditch full of raw sewage. The Environment Agency was able to prove that over 17 months Severn Trent Water had illegally discharged 3.8m litres of raw sewage into the brook …”
2. United Utilities
“The second-highest paid is Steve Mogford, 65, the chief executive of United Utilities. Last year he earned £2.94m, making a total of £12.3m since 2017.
“Four years ago, United Utilities was fined £666,000 after pleading guilty to pumping more than 21 million litres of untreated sewage into the River Medlock in Greater Manchester. The Environment Agency said the discharge had a ‘significant impact’ on fish stocks and water quality.”
3. Thames Water
“Brandon Rennet, the chief financial officer at Thames Water, earned £1.21m last year and Sarah Bentley, the company’s new chief executive, made £1.23m.
“In May, Thames Water was fined £4m after pleading guilty to allowing untreated sewage to escape from sewers below London into a park and a river in Surbiton in southwest London. About 79 million litres of sludge escaped across an area of about 6,500sq metres and Aylesbury crown court was told it took 30 people working every day for almost a month to clean up the ankle-deep mess.
“Thames Water had already been fined £20m in 2017 for a series of spillages. The Environment Agency said they were caused by negligence and had killed wildlife.”
Clearly the fines pale into significance when stacked up against the profits to be made by these vandals. But instead of facing prosecution for their vile crime of poisoning Britain’s rivers, these chancers simply slip from one board of directors to the next, their onward passage greased by golden hellos and golden goodbyes.