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  • by Karma Loveday

BBC puts privatisation centre stage of pollution problems

The private ownership of water companies came under fire in the first episode of comedian and keen fisherman Paul Whitehouse’s Our Troubled Rivers two-part series for BBC2, aired last night.

Billed as an account of pressures affecting the waterways of England and Wales from water companies, agriculture and people, the first episode focused tightly on water industry impacts.

Set in the north of England, the programme profiled campaigners and researchers challenging sewage discharges into the rivers Wharfe and Tame and Lake Windermere, together with Windrush Against Sewage Pollution and Feargal Sharkey.

The water company narrative was heavily tied up with privatisation in 1989, with the subsequent impact of profit, dividends, investment and executive pay featured in relation to Yorkshire Water and United Utilities.

Personal responsibility regarding the flushing of wipes and sanitary products was touched on briefly, as was the need for further investment – but with little mention of water bills.

The next episode was billed to feature agriculture, coastal communities on the south coast and the Thames Tideway.


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