Southern Water: This is how the CEO responded after company handed record fine for untreated sewage discharges

The CEO of Southern Water has said he is 'deeply sorry' for the 'completely unacceptable' incidents, which led to a record-breaking fine last week.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 11:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 1:54 pm

Southern Water was handed a £90m fine on Friday (July 9) for untreated sewage discharges.

Southern admitted pumping 16bn-21bn litres of untreated sewage into delicate ecosystems, including at Chichester Harbour, over a six-year period from 2010.

The company, which has 168 previous convictions and cautions, admitted 51 charges relating to discharges of untreated sewage.

Southern Water admitted pumping 16bn-21bn litres of untreated sewage into delicate ecosystems, including at Chichester Harbour (pictured), over a six-year period from 2010
Southern Water admitted pumping 16bn-21bn litres of untreated sewage into delicate ecosystems, including at Chichester Harbour (pictured), over a six-year period from 2010

CEO Ian McAulay said: "I am deeply sorry for the historic incidents which have led to today’s sentencing and fine.

"I know that the people who rely on us to be custodians of the precious environment in southern England must be able to trust us.

"What happened historically was completely unacceptable and Southern Water pleaded guilty to the charges in recognition of that fact."

Sentencing, Mr Justice Adam Johnson said the crimes were carried out ‘deliberately’ with an ‘intentional breach of or flagrant disregard of the law,’ or failure to put in systems to prevent them.

He said it was ‘inconceivable’ that senior board directors were unaware. They, he said, ‘deliberately failed’ to put in systems to stop the spills.

Mr McAulay said the company will 'reflect closely' on the sentence and remarks made by the judge.

"He has rightly put the environment front and centre which is what matters to all of us," he added.

"These events happened between 2010 and 2015. I joined Southern Water in 2017 and am passionately committed to the environment. We have changed the way we operate.

"My expectation is that Southern Water is fully transparent and operates in the right way. We continue to transform across the areas of risk and compliance, measurement and self-reporting.

"We have made much progress and are continuing to invest to protect the environment and deliver our services safely and at a fair price for our customers."

Mr McAulay confirmed the fine 'will not impact customers’ bills' and investment in its transformation 'will not be reduced'. adding: "Our shareholders are bearing the cost of the fine."