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MP supports call for cuts to water bosses’ bonuses

MP IAN Liddell-Grainger has backed calls for the multi-million pound pay packets of water company bosses to be cut if they fail to halt river pollution.

The suggestion has come from the Commons Environmental Audit Committee which wants an urgent overhaul of the water industry following revelations of innumerable illegal sewage discharges.

MPs say the complacent attitude of water companies has led to a “chemical cocktail” of sewage, slurry and plastic polluting England’s rivers and putting public health and nature at risk – a recent report suggested not one river in the country was pollution-free.

Now Mr Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, says it is time the gravy train stopped – and cash was diverted away from dividends and bonuses into clearing up the ‘unholy mess’ the water industry had bequeathed the country.

Nice little earner

He said: “The fact is that for years the privatised water sector has represented a nice little earner for investors and senior staff.

“But while the dividends have piled up and the profit-related wage packets become fatter the environment has been neglected – to the point where we are now facing a major wildlife crisis in this country.”

Many of the problems have been attributed to water companies failing to upgrade sewage treatment works to cope with the surge in house-building over the last two decades.

Domestic discharges often exceed the treatment capacity in many areas, while in others improperly-treated nitrate-rich effluent is starting to poison miles of water courses.

Part of Mr Liddell-Grainger’s constituency lies within the Somerset Levels, one of Europe’s last great wetlands and an area which is internationally-protected for its wildlife interest.

Sewage pollution

But algal growth linked to sewage pollution is starting to invade miles of drainage channels, posing a major threat to aquatic life.

Mr Liddell-Grainger believes water company officials should hang their heads in shame at the sight.

He said: “The Levels represent one of the jewels in the European environment crown but are now at very real risk of losing their protected status because of pollution.

“I hear all sorts of noises from Defra about measures having been put in place to correct the situation but the fact is those remedies are going to take years to achieve a result and things are almost bound to get worse before they get better.

“The Government has clearly taken its eye off the ball with the water industry and to blithely try to pretend that everything will soon be all right doesn’t fool anyone.

“We need to make examples of those who have presided over the creation of this unholy mess.  Water company officials who have been pocketing seven-figure pay packets need to be brought to heel and told that profit-related pay deals can work both ways.

“And if any of them try to claim that they should continue to be rewarded for such chronic failure of duty I should be delighted to hear their arguments.”

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