LOCAL MP Ian Liddell-Grainger ‘warmly welcomed’ plans to strip water company bosses of bonuses if their firms were convicted of serious pollution incidents.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said with water bills set to increase, people would welcome signs the Government was getting tough with the privatised industry.
Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has announced consultation over a proposal to tear up current terms for remunerating water company chief executives and executive board members, which could be introduced later this year.
Last year, 10 water company chief executives received bonuses totalling £2.5 million while the country endured dozens of pollution incidents involving illegal sewage discharges into rivers and bathing water.
Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the General Election in a new constituency covering parishes around Wellington and the Culm Valley, said the Government had to start restoring public confidence in the industry.
He said: “At the moment, it seems as though these people are being paid to pollute - and the more they pollute the bigger the wage packet.
“In my region I would regard Wessex Water as one of the least bad, but in the South West things have reached an appalling state.
“Given that the superb beaches of Devon and Cornwall represent one of the principal factors attracting millions of visitors to the area it is nauseating to read how they have become convenient locations for South West Water to dump excess sewage.”
Mr Liddell-Grainger said campaigners had been entirely right to direct their anger against South West Water last summer.
“Yet despite this appalling litany of environmental vandalism the chief executive still arrogantly asserts she is not merely worth her enormous salary but is entitled to an additional wad of cash by way of a performance bonus,” he said.
“But that bonus has only been earned by presiding over a company whose supply network leaks like a sieve, which has invested so little in new storage facilities that its customers spent nearly a year under restrictions, and whose discharges have imperilled the health of people enjoying what should be among the cleanest and safest bathing waters in Europe.
“It is simply immoral for people to continue to be paid for such monumental failures.”
A campaign against the ‘eye watering’ culture of water company executive bonuses was also led by Culm Valley’s Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord.
Mr Foord called for the bonuses to be scrapped while illegal sewage discharges were taking place and millions of litres of water were being lost to leaks in the South West Water area.
He recently won a victory when the Government agreed to stop water companies collecting and assessing their own data on raw sewage discharges and instead give more powers to the Environment Agency to carry out the oversight.
Last week, Liberal Democrat Gideon Amos, who will be standing for Parliament in the Taunton and Wellington constituency, also called for Wessex Water price rises to be scrapped until ‘insulting’ overseas dividends and executive bonuses were stopped.