Scottish Water: 'Shameful' firm paid CEOs near £3m- while only 3.4% sewage overflow sites monitored
Scottish Water has paid three executives almost £3m since 2021 but only 3.4% of its sewage overflow sites are monitored
Scottish Water has been slammed as “shameful” after it has been revealed that the publicly-owned firm has paid three executives almost £3 million since 2021. This is despite it being discovered that 50 of Scotland’s 89 bathing waters were deemed to contain unsafe levels of sewage.
According to the company’s annual reports, £2.9 million has been paid out in the past three years, including £1.1 million in bonuses. In 2022 alone, according to the filings, £628,000 was paid to Douglas Millican, Alan Scott and Peter Farrer, which included a one-off long-term incentive payment worth six figures for each man.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have said the Scottish government is letting the agency “off the hook” and “nobody should be rewarded for pumping sewage into our rivers and waterways.” Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Under the SNP, failing to tackle Scotland’s sewage scandal is a multimillion-pound industry. It is utterly shameful that we have a government-owned water company where execs pocket bumper bonuses while our rivers, lochs and coastlines are destroyed.”
He added: “We don’t even know the true scale of this destruction because only a pitiful fraction of sewage discharge points are properly monitored. Nationalist ministers have become little more than spin doctors for the failing Government-owned water company and its outdated standards.”
In May analysis by the Marine Conservation Society found that Scotland is shockingly far behind England and Wales in monitoring sewage overflows from its network. The marine charity calculated that just 3.4% of Scotland’s storm overflows are currently monitored and reported on – compared with almost all storm overflows in Wales and 91% in England.
Scottish Water has also been hit with strike action from its workers with unions accusing Scottish Water of being a “rogue employer”. Some 86% of members of the GMB union and 89% represented by Unite voted for a walkout last month over a pay dispute.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the pay of Scottish Water executives was in line with “public sector pay rules” and “the current remuneration package for the CEO and senior management is significantly smaller than that paid by comparable utilities, both in terms of salary and bonus incentives”.
The spokesperson added: “Monitoring of Scotland’s rivers and coastal waters by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency shows that they are in good ecological condition with 87% classed as having ‘high’ or ‘good’ water quality, but we are determined to improve this further. The actions set out in Scottish Water’s Improving Urban Waters Routemap, and Sepa’s third River Basin Management Plan are key to achieving that.
“Scottish Water is also committing up to £500 million to improve water quality, increase monitoring of the highest priority waters and tackle debris and spills. However, it is important to note that overflows from sewers normally consist of around 99% rainwater and less than 1% toilet waste.”