Southern Water CEO Ian McAulay has said that previous water pollution incidents in his time before joining Southern Water was “completely unacceptable” and that Southern Water has changed the way they operate as a result of these past pollution incidents.

Southern Water was handed a record £90 million fine after pleading guilty to thousands of illegal discharges of sewage which polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.

The sentence follows 51 guilty pleas to widespread and long-term breaches of environmental law by Southern Water between 2010 and 2015.

The offences were found to be caused by deliberate failings, causing major harm (Category 1) to protected areas, conservation sites and oyster beds.

McAulay said:

“I am deeply sorry for the historic incidents which have led to this 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.

“We have heard what the judge has said today and will reflect closely on the sentence and his remarks.

“He has rightly put the environment front and centre which is what matters to all of us.

“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’

“We have changed the way we operate. My expectation is that Southern Water is fully transparent and operates in the right way,” he added.

“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.

“This fine will not impact customers’ bills and investment in our transformation will not be reduced.

“Our shareholders are bearing the cost of the fine,” he concluded.