Undertones' Feargal Sharkey challenges water boss to drink sewage overflows that firm claims is 'mostly rainwater'

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·3-min read
Feargal Sharkey at the Hay Festival 2022.
Feargal Sharkey has challenged a water boss to drink a glass of sewage. (Getty Images)

The Undertones' Feargal Sharkey has challenged the CEO of Southern Water company to drink a glass of sewage the firm claims to be 95 per cent rainwater.

Musician and environmental activist - former frontman of the Teenage Kicks hitmakers - said he will donate £1,000 to charity if water boss Lawrence Gosden accepts his dare.

Sharkey, 63, tweeted: "So SW say what they dump out of sewage overflows is “95-97% rainwater”. Challenge for Lawrence Gosden CEO of SW, drink a glass of what comes out of a CSO, time and place of my choosing and I’ll donate £1,000 to a charity of his choosing."

Read more: See pictures of flash floods hit UK after torrential rain during heatwave

As a result of heavy rain following the recent heatwave in the UK, untreated sewage was released into the sea along the south coast - sparking a pollution warning for many British beaches.

Feargal Sharkey performing at The Roundhouse in London in 2011. (Getty Images)
Feargal Sharkey performing at The Roundhouse in London in 2011. (Getty Images)

Southern Water said in a statement: "Storm releases were made to protect homes, schools and businesses from flooding. The release is 95-97% rainwater and so should not be described as raw sewage."

Sharkey - who enjoys fly fishing as a long-time hobby - has been an active campaigner against the pollution of British rivers for many years, as well as the regulations of the water industry which affect them.

Last year the Here Comes The Summer singer criticised MPs who voted against an amendment to a bill to put legal duties on water companies dumping raw sewage into UK rivers.

Thames Water officials work after a 36-inch water main burst, causing flooding up to four feet deep on 8 August 2022.
Heavy rain has caused flooding in many parts of the UK - prompting water companies to release sewage into the sea. (PA)

Downing Street said that although it agrees with the failure of water companies putting raw sewage into England’s waterways, intentions of the amendment to the bill are “already being delivered”.

Sharkey said: “In days we are about to stand on a global stage and commit hypocrisy on a global scale, lecturing about climate change when we are killing every river in this country.

“How can you stand on that stage and expect respect and credibility and lead the world into a future with less carbon when they know well you are killing some of the rarest ecosystems and strangling every river in the country?”

Campaigners in Newquay campaign to end to sewage pollution of British beaches with poo emoji placard on beach.
Sewage has been released into the sea, polluting UK beaches. (PA)

The Northern Irish singer, who lives in London with his family, added: “It is up to the MPs to decide whether they are prepared to feed the rhetoric or if they are prepared to deliver a greener environment and go out and do what is being demanded of them.”

Read more: England's most dangerously polluted beaches revealed

Sharkey was made an OBE by the Queen in 2019 for services to music.

He left The Undertones in 1983 due to differences within the band and launched a solo career.

Watch: Londoners comment on flash floods in the city