Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse and Lee Mack campaign against sewage discharges in Lake Windermere

Comedians Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse and Lee Mack have called sewage pollution a "national scandal" as the three celebrities joined campaigners to protest against the pollution of England's largest lake.

The trio appeared at a rally calling for an end to all treated and untreated sewage discharge into Lake Windermere.

The comedians were praised for their "amazing support", with fellow protesters saying they "will not rest until the problem is solved".

Steve Coogan Credit: ITV

Steve Coogan said the sewage issue is a problem not just for Windermere, but the whole country.

Paul Whitehouse said that a lot of the sewage pollution is hidden from sight. But it can soon be seen below the water level, leading to an increase in algae which is harmful to humans and animals.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain Steve Coogan described the situation as a “national scandal” and said privatised water companies need to take responsibility and remove sewage from Windermere in the Lake District.

He said: "The privatised water companies, since they've been privatised, United Utilities, who is the biggest wastewater polluter in Windermere by a country mile, have paid out £72 billion in investor dividends whilst basically not maintaining the integrity of the lake.

"They've been polluting it since its inception.

"What we're saying is they should reduce it to zero, there should be no pollution in Windermere, and they are putting out a lot of obfuscation to try to dilute that message."

He added: "It's a simple message. Stop putting sewage in the lake and remove the pollution what sewage is already there."

Would I Lie to You? captain Mack said: "It's not just about Windermere. Windermere is obviously England's biggest, most famous lake.

"If the biggest lake is struggling with it, what are other smaller lakes and waterways having to handle?"

And he said the problem affects local people more than tourists and day-trippers.

Since the privatisation of the water companies in 1989, a total of £72 billion has been paid to shareholders by the sector, according to analysis carried out by Professor Peter Hammond, an economics specialist at the University of Warwick and first reported in the Financial Times.

Professor Hammond examined data by the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) and the Environment Agency, with campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (Wasp), using environmental freedom of information requests.

Friends of the Lake District, which has campaigned since 1934 to protect the landscapes of Cumbria, is calling for the end of all sewage discharges into the lakes.

There were 246 days in 2022 when sewage was discharged by United Utilities from storm overflows into Windermere lakes, according to Environment Agency data.

lake windermere Credit: PA Images

Storm overflow systems are large pipes integrated into combined sewer networks, which automatically release sewage into rivers or the sea during heavy rainfall, to prevent waste flooding homes.

The Save Windermere campaign says high phosphorus levels from this sewage are leading to a rapid increase in potentially toxic algae blooms, which damage the wildlife and ecosystem of the river.

There has been a 99% reduction in the number of sea trout caught by line on River Leven since 1980, according to Friends Of The Lake District.

Data from the Environment Agency released last week shows there were an average of 825 sewage spills per day into England's waterways in 2022, with United Utilities discharging sewage into rivers for over 425,491 hours.

Steve Coogan and Lee Mack spoke to ITV's Good Morning Britain

In a statement, United Utilities said: "The factors affecting water quality and Windermere are complex and without targeted action by multiple sectors we will not see the changes we all want.

"We are determined to play our part by improving our operations and their contribution to the overall health of Windermere."