Water agency bosses to lose bonuses in the event that they dump sewage as Tories nick Labour plan

The bosses of water companies will probably be banned from taking bonuses if they’re discovered to be criminally negligent for air pollution in rivers and the ocean.

Ministers have been accused of being “shamed” into adopting Labour’s plans to get powerful on the businesses blamed for spillages. Executives have acquired £26million in bonuses since 2019 regardless of hurt to the surroundings.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay instructed The Times : “No one should profit from illegal behaviour and it’s time that water company bosses took responsibility for that.”

Ofwat, the regulator, will seek the advice of on what ought to set off a bonus ban. It might embrace companies which have been efficiently prosecuted for essentially the most severe classes of air pollution, corresponding to considerably contaminating a washing website. The change, which can apply to chief executives and all board members, will come into impact from April.

Several water agency chiefs voluntarily waived their bonuses final yr amid anger over sewage spills, together with the bosses of Southern Water and Thames Water. But, 5 did take their bonuses, together with Anglian Water’s Peter Simpson, who acquired £302,033 bonus in 2022-23 despite the fact that his firm’s environmental efficiency was rated two stars out of 4.

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed mentioned: “Once again Labour leads, the Conservatives follow. Labour called for the water regulator to be given new powers to block bonuses for polluting water bosses last year. After doing nothing for 14 years, the Conservatives have now been shamed into adopting Labour’s plan. But they must go further and back Labour’s whole plan to clean up our rivers, and ensure that executives who are responsible for repeated illegal sewage dumping, face criminal charges.”