Ilkley: Feargal Sharkey hits out at 'measly' Yorkshire Water investment

Feargal Sharkey
Feargal Sharkey criticised the amount Yorkshire Water was investing to cut waste discharges into the River Wharfe

Clean water campaigner Feargal Sharkey has said a £1.4m investment by Yorkshire Water to cut the amount of waste it discharges into the River Wharfe is "measly".

The firm said the project in Ilkley was part of a £180m project to cut storm overflow discharges.

The former singer hit out at the company when he addressed members of the Ilkley Clean River Group.

Yorkshire Water said it had plans to spend a further £58m in the area.

Speaking about his visit to the River Wharfe, Mr Sharkey, who is a keen fisherman, said: "I wanted to come up and just give them an enormous round of applause to the extraordinary people that are the Ilkley Clean River Group."

He described the campaign group as "incredible".

"What took me by surprise and delight was their sheer brilliance and capability," he said.

Becky Malby, chairperson of Ilkley Clean River group
Becky Malby, who chairs the Ilkley Clean River Group, said Mr Sharkey was great at holding water firms to account

The former Undertones singer, who has heavily criticised utility firms in recent years for discharging sewage into waterways, said the River Wharfe was once "renowned globally" for its populations of grayling.

"It'll come as no surprise that populations of grayling throughout the UK are now collapsing. That tells you everything you need to know about water quality," he added.

Nicola Shaw, chief executive officer of Yorkshire Water, said the money would be spent before the end of March 2026.

"These are huge numbers for a town of 14,000 people," she said.

Ms Shaw said she recognised it was "difficult" to ask customers to pay higher bills.

"I absolutely assure customers they won't be paying twice, we've made sure that what we are doing is new work so they are paying for work that needs to be done," she added.

Becky Malby, who chairs the Ilkley Clean River Group, said they were "delighted" to receive the support of Mr Sharkey who was "fantastic at holding water companies to account".

"This week Yorkshire Water is announcing how it is investing millions to clean up the sewage in the river but they want the customer to pay," she said.

"All that goes on our bills and we think we've paid and Feargal is here to support us to make sure we don't pay twice."

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