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Boss of water supplier paid £3m despite 60,000 sewage spills

Chief Executive of Severn Trent LIV GARFIELD
Severn Trent boss Liv Garfield's pay has jumped by 45pc from £2.2m in 2015 - Tayfun Salci/Zuma Press

The chief executive of Severn Trent was paid £3.2m last year despite the company’s sewage spills rising by a third.

Liv Garfield’s total pay package rose by 2pc last year, boosted by an increase in her annual bonus.

Ms Garfield, who is one of just nine female chief executives on the FTSE 100, was paid a £794,000 salary, with her bonus increasing from £359,000 to £584,000.

The remainder of her pay package included pension payments and long term share awards.

This cements her spot as the highest-paid boss in the water sector, as she has earned more than £16m over the past five years.

In its annual report, Severn Trent said the increase in pay was because of the company’s strong financial performance.

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Revenues at the water supplier rose 8pc last year to £2.34bn while profits jumped 20pc to £201m after it was boosted by its water supply and sewage management businesses.

A Severn Trent spokesman said: “Delivering for our customers, our communities and the environment underpins our approach to remuneration. Just under three quarters of executive pay is directly linked to performance, with stretching targets in place.”

Ms Garfield’s pay comes after Severn Trent admitted it was responsible for 60,000 sewage spills last year, a third more than in 2022. It was also fined £2m by regulators in February for polluting the River Trent.

The incident in question took place between 2019 and 2020, with Severn Trent’s Strongford Sewage Treatment Works found to have “recklessly” released 260 million litres of raw sewage – the equivalent of 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

After pleading guilty to all charges by the Environment Agency, Seven Trent said it accepted “full responsibility and regret the course of events that led to this isolated issue”.

Ms Garfield has been in charge of Severn Trent for a decade.

She was previously the chief executive of BT’s Openreach, where she oversaw the rollout of fibre broadband across the UK.

Her total pay has jumped by 45pc from £2.2m in 2015.

Writing in the company’s annual report, Ms Garfield said that the risk of environmental harm is “unacceptable”, claiming that Severn Trent has since introduced measures to prevent similar pollution incidents from happening again.

It comes amid the Government’s crackdown on bonuses paid to bosses of water companies found to have committed serious criminal breaches.

Steve Barclay, the Environment Secretary, announced in February that the UK’s water watchdog will be launching a consultation to define the criteria for the ban.

This could include bonus restrictions on companies found guilty of polluting bathing sites or conservation areas or those with serious management failings.