South West Water boss trebles pay with huge bonus as beaches are shut due to raw sewage in sea

Trickle down economics in action.

As Susan Davy gets more so do we.

But it’s not just trickling it’s gushing forth and spewing onto our beaches.

A palpable success for Trussonomics. – Owl

David Parsley inews.co.uk 

South West Water boss Susan Davy has more than trebled her annual salary with an award of more than £1m in bonus and benefits despite overseeing the closure of beaches after raw sewage was pumped into the sea around Devon and Cornwall.

Ms Davy, who is chief executive of South West Water’s parent company Pennon, is paid a base salary of £456,000, but with her bonus, incentives and benefits the company’s latest set of accounts show her total pay was bumped up to £1.6m.

The boost to her bank account comes as more than a dozen beaches across Devon and Cornwall have been shut due to pollution.

In the last week, Exmouth beach in East Devon has been unsafe to swim in since Tuesday’s heavy rain, either through continuous sewage dumping, or at least two separate dumping incidents.

A live interactive map created by Surfers Against Sewage displays a red cross on the beaches that have had sewage overflow discharges in the past 48 hours.

Exmouth had a red cross on Tuesday evening, indicating a recent spill, and still had a red cross on Thursday evening, indicating a second, or constant, spill.

Eleven beaches across the Cornish coast were also unsafe for 48 hours after overflow sewage was pumped into popular surf spots by South West Water.

Ms Davy’s bonus was paid despite South West Water having the worst environmental record of any water company in the UK.

The company has a one star Environment Agency rating, and is considered “below target” or “significantly below target” across the board for its environmental performance.

The company, which claims to be committed to the environment in its annual report, is also currently under investigation by watchdog Ofwat over the management of its sewage plants.

In June, David Black, chief executive of Ofwat, said: “Our concerns have grown further about South West Water’s operation of its wastewater assets and environmental performance. As a result, we have opened an additional enforcement case into South West Water.

“We have now opened enforcement cases against the majority of wastewater companies in England and Wales. From what we have seen so far, the scale of the issue here is shocking. Companies must resolve any problems at wastewater treatment works and do so quickly. Where they have breached their obligations, we will not hesitate to act.”

Last autumn, the Government voted to continue to allow the pumping of raw sewage into the sea around popular tourist beaches. If they had outlawed the practice, private water companies would have been forced to invest in improving their treatment of sewage.

Richard Foord, the recently elected Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “Our children should be encouraged to enjoy the natural world around them, especially during the summer holidays. But this week our rivers and local beauty spots have been channels for human sewage, making them a serious health risk.

“Still, South West Water executives have the audacity to take bonuses that are almost double their outrageously high salaries. With a one star rating from the Environment Agency, how can they justify this?”

A spokesman for South West Water  said: “The investments and changes we are already making across our network are delivering real results, including a one-third reduction in pollution incidents last year to the lowest number in 10 years.

“We are committed to bringing this down further year on year by strengthening our round-the-clock response, increasing resourcing levels by 25 per cent, and investing £330 million over the next three years in our wastewater network.”

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