Newton Abbot ‘Fight the Fatberg’ on World Environment Day

Fyn Hayes (18), Stan Popham (18), Mary Owen (17) with Helen Chessum from the Newton Abbot Transition group.
(Last Updated On: June 11, 2019)

Celebrating World Environment Day (Wednesday 5th June), Newton Abbot’s pioneering technical college invited prospective students to a special open day where they joined forces to ‘fight the fatberg’.

Working with Surfers Against Sewage’s Plastic Free campaign and community group Transition Newton Abbot, South Devon University Technical College (UTC) hosted an Open Evening which focused on environmental issues. Prospective students and their parents participated in a range of activities throughout the evening and learnt about how to protect the environment.

The event comes after Devon’s largest fatberg was discovered in a Sidmouth sewer earlier this year. The monstrosity, which is the size of six back-to-back double decker buses, is made up of discarded wet wipes, hardened fat and oil which is clogging up the pipes under the Esplanade.

Taking note of the shocking news, South Devon UTC’s eco-ambassadors decided to set visitors the challenge of creating a sink-safe product inside the college’s impressive science laboratories. Visitors presented their ideas and thoughts on how to fight the fatberg to be in with a chance of winning a VIP experience with the Environment Agency at the National Laboratories. The lucky winner will gain an insight into the work of the scientists who maintain the high standards of the UK’s countryside, rivers and beaches.

To mark the end of World Environment Day, the college showed Bag-IT, a 70-minute documentary that has received praise for its impactful and animated message to reduce plastics.

Prospective sixth form and Year 10 students looking to start at the college in September 2019, also got the opportunity to talk to current students, staff members and employer partners.

The pioneering college on Kingsteignton Road, with its state-of-the-art facilities, offers an innovative model of learning for students that provides professional academic and technical education aimed to ‘develop a new generation of engineers, scientists and environmentalists’. Unlike many other colleges, South Devon UTC has a higher proportion of their students studying triple science compared to the national average.

The curriculum also includes all year-round work experience opportunities and employability skills development. This is a key focus for students at South Devon UTC which results in an extremely high success rate for students achieving their further destination placements in higher level apprenticeships with local employers, University or with the Armed Forces.

Recently, the eco-ambassador project, founded by scientists Fyn Hayes (17) and Luke Dawson (18), saw success in the School / Educational Establishment Recycling Hero category at the Recycle Devon Thank You Awards 2019. The eco ambassadors have put a number of initiatives in place including the set-up of a recycling centre for Walkers Crisp packets, the only drop-off point for crisp packets in Newton Abbot.

Claire Plumb, Principal of South Devon UTC, said: “We were delighted with the turnout to our Fight the Fatberg event on World Environment Day. It was a great opportunity for people to see what goes on behind our doors and even test out our laboratories in the Fight the Fatberg challenge. The discovery in Sidmouth shocked us and our eco-ambassadors were keen to come up with a solution to encourage the community to consider what they are throwing down their drains. Thank you to everyone who attended.”

South Devon UTC is currently recruiting students for the 2019/20 academic year. Young people with a flair for science, engineering, technology and the environment due to start Y10 or Y12 in September 2019 should contact the college as soon as possible for more information. Open mornings are hosted every Friday between 11:30am-12:30pm; register your interest to attend by calling 01626 240201 or visit

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