By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said that failing to tackle Scotland’s sewage scandal,  which is much in evidence on the Clyde shore in Dumbarton, Cardross, Helensburgh and the sea lochs, is a multi-million-pound industry as he revealed that government-owned Scottish Water has handed out nearly £3 million in remuneration to its three executives since 2020.

New analysis of Company House records has revealed that government-owned Scottish Water has paid out:  

  • Total remuneration of £2,901,000 to its three executives since 2020.
  • £1,131,000 of this was in bonuses, benefits and incentives, with £628,000 being paid out in 2021/22 alone.

During last year alone, sewage was dumped into Scotland’s waterways 14,000 times, releasing the equivalent of 19,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of sewage.

These revelations about remuneration come on the eve of First Minister’s Questions, at which the issue is due to be raised.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have committed that their manifesto for the next Scottish Parliament election will contain provision for a new Clean Water Act. It will see: 

  • Scotland’s Victorian sewage network updated.
  • Every sewage dump monitored and published with binding targets for their reduction.
  • A blue flag system for Scotland’s rivers.
  • A complete ban on the release of sewage in protected areas such as bathing waters.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:  “Under the SNP, failing to tackle Scotland’s sewage scandal is a multi-million-pound industry.

Scottish Water chief exec Alex Plant, his  predecessor Douglas Millican, LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and a wild swimmer in Loch Lomond, which has been found to be polluted with sewage off the village of Luss.

“It is utterly shameful that we have a government-owned water company where execs pocket bumper bonuses while our rivers, lochs and coastlines are destroyed.

“We don’t even know the true scale of this destruction because only a pitiful fraction of sewage discharge points are properly monitored.

“Nobody should be rewarded for pumping sewage into our rivers and waterways. Nationalist ministers have become little more than spin doctors for the failing government-owned water company and its outdated standards.

“To turn the tide on this scandal, Scottish Liberal Democrats have published plans for a Clean Water Act that would see vital updates to our sewage network and a clamp down on discharges.”


You can find the Liberal Democrat analysis of remuneration to Scottish Water executives here

You can read more about how Scottish Water pension values are calculated at pp.117-119 here

You can find the Scottish Liberal Democrat plan for a Clean Water Act in more detail here

Over the weekend, the Herald on Sunday revealed that Scottish Water’s three executives have received nearly £1m in performance bonuses over the past five years.   

In England, almost every sewage overflow is monitored. By contrast, in Scotland, monitoring is far more rudimentary with just 4% of overflows getting the same treatment. This means that there is every reason to believe that the current volumes of sewage overflows are a significant underestimate of the true figure.

Scottish Water sewage works which sends bucket-loads of untreated sewage into the River Clyde and people trying desperately to clean the place up.

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