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Devon’s ‘largest ever’ fatberg discovered in Sidmouth sewer

08th January 2019

An unwanted Christmas present of hardened fat, oil and wet-wipes longer than six double-decker buses, has been discovered in a Sidmouth sewer under The Esplanade. 

The 64-metre fatberg is the biggest ever discovered in Devon or Cornwall and is thought to be one of the largest found so close to the sea. 


South West Water’s Director of Wastewater, Andrew Roantree, said: “It shows how this key environmental issue is not just facing the UK’s cities, but right here in our coastal towns.

“It is the largest discovered in our service history and will take our sewer team around eight weeks to dissect this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions.

“Thankfully it has been identified in good time with no risk to bathing waters.

“If you keep just one new year’s resolution this year, let it be to not pour fats, oil or grease down the drain, or flush wet-wipes down the loo. The consequences can be significant - including sewer flooding in your own home. 

“Put your pipes on a diet and don’t feed the fatberg.”

A fatberg forms like a snowball – as wet-wipes get flushed down loos, fats oil and grease congeal together, gradually forming a hard mass known as a fatberg.

The removal is due to start on Monday 4 February, but heavy rain could cause delays.

Sewer workers will require full breathing apparatus to carry out the removal, which will involve a combination of manual labour and special sewer jetting equipment.

Nearby businesses will not be affected by the removal and the esplanade will remain fully accessible with no impact to traffic.


  • Location: The Esplanade, Sidmouth, EX10 8BE (near The Ham playground area, see images)
  • A pop-up campaign shop will be launching in Sidmouth shortly with full details available later this week. The shop will aim to bring the sewer to life with interactive tasks and further information around South West Water's ThinkSink and Love Your Loo campaigns 
  • Our sewer network can stretch all the way to Australia at 17,000km in length and the blockage was proactively identified during routine checks
  • While we estimate 8 weeks for the removal, but heavy rain and the sheer volume of fat in a confined space could cause delays to the removal timeline
  • We tackle a new sewer blockage at a rate of one an hour which adds £4.5million to bills every year
  • Common items flushed or poured down sinks include: fat oil and grease (FOG), wet-wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds and pads
  • South West Water’s multi award-winning Love Your Loo campaign educates customers on the importance of only flushing the 3Ps. Dedicated Love Your Loo advisors have spoken to more than 26,000 customers across Devon and Cornwall

For further information please contact:

South West Water