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Bob Geldof tells Southern Water to '**** off', and has his say on Boris Johnson, huge housing developments and the UK's biggest solar farm


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Rock star Bob Geldof is urging people not to pay their Southern Water bills and has told the scandal-hit firm it can "**** off!"

The Boomtown Rats frontman let rip at the company this week during a rare on-stage appearance in his home town of Faversham.

Bob Geldof labelled Boris Johnson a "hollow, incompetent oaf"
Bob Geldof labelled Boris Johnson a "hollow, incompetent oaf"

He also branded Boris Johnson a "hollow, incompetent oaf", expressed fears over "destructive" housing developments planned for Faversham, and backed the UK's biggest solar farm, which is due to be built on the town's outskirts.

But it was Southern Water and the ongoing sewage leak scandal which riled him most during a two-hour discussion on climate change on Thursday night.

He said the £90 million fine it was slapped with this year for illegal discharges into the sea is a drop in the ocean for the firm.

He also supported the decision of some residents in Whitstable to make a stand and refuse to pay the waste water portion of their bills.

"Don't pay your water bills to Southern Water, they can **** off," he said.

Bob Geldof speaking at the event on Thursday evening
Bob Geldof speaking at the event on Thursday evening

"I can't understand why this giant utility company can't be held to account.

"Why aren't the board liable? Why aren't they going to jail?

"I really don't understand it. They are doing vile harm to adults and children who go swimming, and vile harm to livelihoods.

"How are they allowed to do this?

"I'm absolutely certain if there was a one-year minimum custodial sentence for them, then it would stop.

A protest over the sewage scandal on Tankerton beach. Picture: Tom Banbury @tombanbury
A protest over the sewage scandal on Tankerton beach. Picture: Tom Banbury @tombanbury

"God bless those people of Whitstable. I'm straight there to join them, in fact I'll join them immediately."

The Live Aid founder was a guest at an event called Sustainable Development: Vision or Pipe dream at Faversham's Assembly Rooms.

The singer - who has lived in Davington Priory for 40 years - expressed fears over plans for huge housing developments across the historic market town.

Swale Borough Council has been told by the government to increase the number of homes it builds over the next 18 years from 14,000 to 24,000 - and Faversham will bear the brunt.

It is set to take on 3,410 further homes - adding to the 1,739 properties already earmarked in the earlier plan on land such as Perry Court and Oare Gravel Works.

The Faversham Lakes development is one of the many being built - or planned to built - in Faversham
The Faversham Lakes development is one of the many being built - or planned to built - in Faversham

The Duchy of Cornwall, which is fronted by Prince Charles, is planning to build the town's biggest housing development across 320 acres - from Salters Lane all the way up to the Brenley Corner junction.

The 2,500-home scheme was unveiled two months ago, and if approved, the Duchy hopes to start construction in 2024/25.

Discussing the mammoth increase in proposed housing developments encircling the town, Geldof said: "It is absolutely destructive.

"And then you get the plain fact that concrete contributes 10% overall to greenhouse gases.

"I mean, none of it makes sense. The fact that the local councils are being mandated by central government is scandalous, it really is scandalous."

Homes are planned for this area of Faversham owned by the Duchy of Cornwall
Homes are planned for this area of Faversham owned by the Duchy of Cornwall

The activist says residents need to combine all their "rage" and work together to try to disrupt the way their area is managed.

"If you don't want the housing and don't want the pollution of the water, don't pussyfoot," he said.

"Don't say 'oh well, you should have insulation'.

"If you don't want the housing, deal with that. And the way to deal with it is to decapitate the head.

"Bypass Faversham council, bypass the Faversham Society. Swale council can't do it, and KCC don't care - they're just worried about the next seat.

Faversham Society trustee Matthew Hatchwell hosted the talk
Faversham Society trustee Matthew Hatchwell hosted the talk

"This is a massively Tory seat. The only way that will frighten them to really make difference is to threaten the 22,000 majority.

"If it was a Labour seat, I'd be saying exactly the same thing.

"There's nothing that frightens them more than middle-England enraged. Nothing.

"I'm all for Extinction Rebellion, I'm all for those people.

"It's so English that you would have this revolution called Insulate UK (Insulate Britain) and they're holding up the M25. My only problem with that is that they do it so craply.

"The fact that the local councils are being mandated by central government is scandalous...'

"Even if it affects me, I go with it. I had to cross Hyde Park and it took me three hours.

"I asked the cab driver what's going on, and said 'Extinction Rebellion'. I said 'the bastards!' but I had to stay and not turn around.

"They make a mistake when they over reach. Everything has to be thought through, there must be a finite end.

"You must give people a clear direction of travel and articulate why. Every step must be a victory."

While gaining much applause for most of his views, Geldof's remarks about the giant Graveney solar farm - recently renamed Project Fortress by its new owners - drew silence.

He revealed he is a fan of the controversial project, dismissing concerns over the potential loss of wildlife habits in typical fashion.

"What's wrong with bloody panels," he said.

Project Fortress will begin to be built next year
Project Fortress will begin to be built next year

"It's all great, whiz bang and high-tech, and they're on marshes.

"'(People say) yeah, yeah but they're going to attack the greater crested newt', but **** the greater crested newt, you know, it's much better to have solar panels."

Construction work on the solar farm, which is now owned by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, is due to start in the first half of next year.

Away from local issues, the I Don't Like Mondays singer revealed how close he came to being rocketed into space to highlight the impact of climate change in the early 1990s.

"The BBC had been on at me to do another Live Aid, because for them it was a big TV success," he said.

"So pre-Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, I went to the Soviet embassy and said 'will you put me up into space?'.

"I'm all for Extinction Rebellion, I'm all for those people..."

"I wanted to zip around and film the earth from space, and as we go over each part of the world we'd articulate the scene - be it industrialisation, industrial pollution, carbon etc.

"People would watch because it's from space.

"It was all go, three people came over to measure me from Bulgaria but I was too tall. I said 'can you not just extend the thing' but they couldn't.

"Hence, we were going to pay the Soviets £6 million. Nasa said no, they refused point blank.

"I'd have to spend a year in Russia but Paula (ex-wife) could do some documentaries, Fifi (eldest daughter) could go to school in Kazakhstan, and I could be training and making an album or something.

"It was all go, and typically the Soviet Union then fell apart and I never got to go up."

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