The same water companies that dump raw untreated sewage into our waterways, and who have been chronically under-investing in our water infrastructure for years have been racking up truly eye-watering pay and bonuses for their executives.
As reported in The Times in November, base pay for leaders at ten water firms in England and Wales totalled £10.05 million this year, up from £9.17 million the year before, and additional bonuses at some companies were even higher. Severn Trent Water paid out almost 3x as much in executive bonuses than base pay.
This industry is a gravy train where both sewage and cash flow freely. It is a national scandal that execs are stuffing their pockets whilst our rivers and lakes are destroyed, a practice the Conservatives have practically legalised while in office.
Here in Norwich, sewage discharge was spotted flowing through the Wensum River in the middle of the city centre in September, and in 2019-20, 16hrs-worth of sewage was dumped into a 2-mile stretch upstream. The water companies have proposed to charge ratepayers the cost of cleaning up their rotten mess. The average bill is set to rise 31% by 2030.
The Lib Dems nationally are calling for a ban on bonuses for executives in the water industry and for these companies to be wound up and reformed into public interest bodies. At our Autumn conference we renewed our commitment to protecting our environment and tackling the crisis facing our natural world.
We are calling for meaningful action to reverse the decline in our natural environment by:
• Halting sewage discharges by mandating major sewage infrastructure upgrades as well as reducing other river pollution and setting new ‘blue flag’ regulations.
• Halting the decline in nature by 2030 and ‘doubling nature’ by 2050. We would do this by doubling the amount of land that is protected and managed for nature, doubling the area of the most important habitats and doubling species abundance.
• Reforming the planning system to ensure decisions are compatible with nature’s recovery and climate change mitigation and designating more areas for wildlife.
• Introducing a ‘Right to Nature’, establishing everyone’s right to healthy air, clean water and access to nature.
• Introducing an Environment and Wellbeing Budget, focused on ensuring we are a country that is rich in nature.
Read more about our plans and sign the petition at www.libdems.org.uk/stop-sewage.