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Anglian Water director Alex Plant – only recently appointed as chair of the business board of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) – is to take a major new job in Scotland.

He will take over as the £295,000 a year chief executive of Scottish Water when Douglas Millican steps down from the role on May 31, 2023.

Mr Plant, 52, is currently director of strategy and regulation at Anglian Water, which supplies services to seven million people and is the largest company in England by geographical area covered.

Scottish Water says his appointment has been approved by the Scottish Government.

Mr Plant said: “I am hugely excited to be taking up this role in an organisation which plays such a vital role in the daily lives of so many people.

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“A key challenge will be taking forward the transformation work which is already underway.

“This will ensure that Scotland’s water and wastewater services continue to provide value for money and provide confidence for customers as we face some real challenges, especially around climate change.”

As chair of the business board at CAPCA he replaced Cambridgeshire businessman Austen Adams who resigned after an attempted coup to oust Mayor Johnson.

Mr Adams added his name to a list that included four political leaders who had tabled a motion calling for Dr Johnson to suspend himself pending investigations into the running of the combined authority. 

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Mr Plant has been a familiar figure in the county, having once been executive director for economy, transport, and environment at Cambridgeshire County Council 

He was also at one stage chief executive of Cambridgeshire Horizons (the body overseeing the plans for sustainable new communities in Cambridgeshire). 

After taking on the business board role, Mr Plant spoke of the “very significant challenges of climate change, the cost-of-living crisis and global instability” the county and country faced. 

He added: “I believe that the private, public and third sectors must work ever more closely together to make the most of the opportunities we have and to mitigate risks. 

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“The unique features of our open and innovative economy mean that delivering sustainable economic growth here is not just of local significance, but of national and international importance too.” 

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Mr Plant believes it is vital to “make the most of the extraordinary talent we have in our area.

“If we can do this, we can help to build a future where growth is sustainable and inclusive, the transition to net-zero is achieved, and we can successfully adapt to the impacts of climate change”.  

Dame Susan Rice, chair of Scottish Power, said: “After a wide-reaching search, I am delighted that Alex Plant will become chief executive of Scottish Water in June.

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“Alex brings a unique blend of experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, and in organisations large and small.

“Through his interesting career consistently runs a thread of public service and of genuine commitment to communities, customers, and staff.

“I have no doubt that Alex will smoothly pick up where Douglas leaves off. As a strategist and an implementer, Alex is well poised to lead Scottish Water into the future.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Power said: “The salary for the CEO role is £295,000, less than any comparable water company chief executive in Great Britain.

“Scottish Water is responsible for public water supply and wastewater services to five million people.

“Services are supported by a vast range of infrastructure and assets as well as a multi-million-pound capital investment programme.

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“The organisation is progressing a transformation programme which will achieve net zero status by 2040 and improve resilience for customers for years to come.”

Earlier this year Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP described as ‘despicable’ the bonuses awarded to the three top executives of publicly owned Scottish Water.

Chief executive Douglas Millican, salary of £267,000 and a bonus of £92,000

Director, Peter Farrer, salary of £197,000 and a bonus of £68,000

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Director, Alan Scott, salary of £195,000 and a bonus of £67,000

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