Joe Lycett investigates sewage network in new show

Listen to this Article Now
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Spread the love

Alex McIntyre

BBC News, West Midlands

Comedian Joe Lycett has created a new documentary in which he investigates the state of the country’s sewage network.

The Birmingham-born stand-up will star in Joe Lycett vs. Sewage, which airs on Channel 4 on Tuesday evening. It will see him investigate the pollution in the UK’s waterways and the situation with the country’s wastewater infrastructure.

Water UK said in response that companies had invested a “record” £96bn to reduce spills into rivers and seas.  Lycett spoke to a whistle-blower from an unnamed water company who claimed some wastewater works had not had any investment since the 1950s.

They described the infrastructure as “absolutely dilapidated and falling apart, held together with sticky tape and plasticine”. The whistle-blower also claimed that spills were not always reported.

“I’ve seen managers who go quicker up the greasy pole if they nod and agree and don’t report what they should report,” they told Lycett.  According to research from GMB Union commissioned for the show, 42% of 688 wastewater workers across the union said spills involving sewage were always reported properly.

During the documentary, Lycett also explored the relationship between water companies and regulators, including the Environment Agency and Ofwat.  The comedian referred to a number of influential water company employees who have gone on to take up positions at regulators.

In response to findings in the programmed, Water UK said: “Companies have set out proposals for a record £96 billion of investment, to ensure the security of our water supply in the future and reduce spills into rivers and seas as fast as possible.” The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the show it was “driving the largest infrastructure program in water company history to upgrade the network”.

The Environment Agency said it “takes the management of conflicts of interest very seriously”, adding that none of its most senior staff have an interest in a water company. Ofwat said that employees “intending to leave” were removed from projects Where there was the “potential for a conflict of interest”.