Welcome to Inside the Environment Agency

24 July, 2014

The sole aim of this blog is to highlight the areas within which improvements can be made in the Environment Agency, where abuse of the system can be identified and reduced, and to expose where mismanagement has occurred so that it can be corrected. Follow us @EAWhistleblower - Supported by 41 serving and ex-EA staff members.

Inconsistent Environmental Regulatory Approach - Avoiding Hard Work

24 July, 2014

As a national organisation, the Environment Agency is entrusted to ensure that it carries out it's duties in a fair and consistent manor. It is something espoused by the Agency in everything it publishes - unfortunately, it is far different from what is encouraged and practiced on the ground as an officer. It was part of our training, shadowing and regular practice to allow, either by overlooking or giving poor advice, operators and licencee's to contravene rules and regulations in as far as even giving the "verbal" greenlight to operate in a way that would be considered a breach of permit/licence. This was encouraged with the future anticipation of building up a strong casefile to take against the operator/licencee so that we could justify greater legal action - this is in conflict with our duties to give open and fair guidance. This was explained as a way of improving our PR by having more casefiles on the go to largely justify our existence.

These are passed down from management in certain areas, and luckily, it isn't widespread, but it is recommended by a significant number of  the management teams and certainly carried out by a large number of officers on the ground. It is, essence, a form of trickery and deception to boost casefiles.

What's worse is how this "selection process" works when choosing which operator/licencee to pursue (pick on/give false advice to). Personal biases and opinions about operators and licence holders were regularly discussed in team meetings in order help decide who to target - especially if we had few problem operators and needed to boost stats. Some of these chosen operators and licence holders were "old" and some officers had the opinion that their time was up and that they shouldn't continue to have the licence - they would become a target - we'd even develop methods of finding ways to score them to boost their annual subsistence fees. Being in an ethnic minority is a large no-no for a large number of officers, and these would be targeted - there were regular team discussions about racial profiling and targeting due to certain "perceptions" that they tend to operate illegal sites. Other techniques would be for one officer to regulate a site with a "light touch", encourage operators to breach their permit, and then intentionally swap the site with another officer who would "come down like a ton of bricks".

In many, many instances, if an officer didn't like an operator or licence holder, then we'd focus more energy on them to "catch them out", make it difficult granting new permits and we'd find ways of modifying the permits/licences to intentionally cause hassle - this was largely a game to many of us and had no environmental benefits.

The message I would like to get out is how the power given to the Agency is regularly abused, how personal opinions and biases impact real people and businesses with no benefit to the environmental or human health, and that what the Agency communicates to the outside world is usually a far cry from what is encouraged internally.

Conflicts of Interest, Favouritism & Bribes at the Environment Agency

22 July, 2014

The first two are very common, the later is rare, but does occur, despite what the Environment Agency says.

There have been occasions during my time (and others have collaborated this) inside the Environment Agency where I have witnessed many conflicts of interest between Environment and Permitting Officers and Operators. For example, there are a number of Officers and permitting staff who have accepted money to complete permit applications on behalf of external organisations in direct conflict with their duties. I know of six occasions in 2012 alone that this has happened. This is frowned upon by management, but is not actively discouraged or investigated. This could be the cause of the mix up with Avoncliff et al's licensing escapade.

Wrongdoing doesn't end there - there is the problem with the perverse nature of the promotion model used internally for Environment Officers. Every Officer needs to present a case that they prosecuted or evidence that they turned around a poor performing operator in order to gain promotion to the next stage - finding such examples to present for promotion are rare, so "constructive" prosecutions regularly take place with backing from fellow Officers with the idea that if they help one out, it will be reciprocated when the other looks for their next promotion opportunity. I have eluded to this before in this blog, whereby Officers will give conflicting information to an unsuspecting permit holder in the hopes that the operator breaches their permit. Other Officers give poor advice simply because of poor training. Either case, the operator receives the flack and pays the fine when such mistakes are found, whilst the Officer producing the case gains recognition for doing good to protect the environment. When reading some of the recent prosecutions by the Agency, keep in mind that a proportion have come about due to unfortunate circumstances and could have been prevented with proper advice i.e. certain Officers doing their job properly.

When you picture the problems at Boomeco and Waste4Fuel, it's not above suspicion to imagine that this is one potential reason for the problems getting so far out of hand. Of course, there is the alternative explanation of lack of oversight of Officers forging visits, bunking off work and all means of avoiding doing actual inspections.

Favouritism is a huge problem in the Environment Agency, as many of the Officers work in the areas they are responsible for. It is common for Officers to socialise outside of work with the licencees (various permit holders) and people running the organisations that they regulate. As mentioned previously in this blog, if you're not on some of these Officers favourite list, but happen to be in their "I don't like you" list, you're in big trouble - this is likely the current state of affairs for Avoncliff. Of course, if you happen to be good buddies with your Officer outside of work, then it is common that you will get more leeway in what you can do and get away with - as I have witnessed first-hand whilst working there. Despite making several reports to management, no action was ever taken to resolve these issues.

The much less common, but still under investigated, is bribery. Management do state a big no-no to this, but in 2012, I am aware of two Officers accepting money from a permit holder (by their own admission) for information on a key competitor in the area. Those Officers are still working there in the same capacity. Stories of other Environment Officers accepting money for confidential information is not uncommon.

I know that line management do not like to raise alarm or investigate these issues, because it a) is embarrassing and effects their promotion prospects, b) is controversial and c) don't want to rock the boat i.e. "why let a few bad apples spoil the barrel".

Environment Officer Site Inspections - What Could Go Wrong

18 July, 2014

Environment Officers are now more than ever being pressured to "find" any incidents at sites to justify increasing subsistence fees (which could lead to an increase of 300% of a standard annual permit's cost). There is a particular problem of Environment Officers playing good cop, bad cop by giving bad advice to entice operators into thinking they are ok doing one thing, but is then picked up by another officer as non-compliant later on. Making false statements is also another tactic player by Environment Officers, as very few operators will check the paperwork (many compliance assessment report (CAR) forms go missing or are sent late - some down to known EO tactics, some genuine mistakes), even fewer operators will challenge false statements knowing that it will summon the wrath of disgruntled EOs.

Operators need to be particularly aware of Environment Officers who never attend site visits, but who still complete Compliance Assessment Report forms from their desk (very common, see post about abuse of flexi time and annual leave). This is a significant problem which can come up to bite complacent operators later on if their permit is passed over to a more eager EO in future, especially if they are fairly new and coming up for their next level promotion and need to prove they have turned around a problem site.

The critical issue with CAR forms is their subjective nature, which combined with the unbridled power and lack of oversight of Environment Officers have caused a number of problems highlighted here in this blog and elsewhere.

You can read some of the humorous comments from Environment Officers at Skip Hire Magazine. P.S. We've seen far worse and far funnier inspection comments, but makes you question the intelligence/effort of some Environment Officers.

On the other hand, for residents battling sites like Waste4Fuel, here's your explanation for how these incidents spiral out of control, when really, if the EOs responsible did their job, these would rarely be as serious.

Environment Officers: Flexi Hours, Holiday & Home Working Privilege Abuses

14 July, 2014

I'm sure most people are used to working a contracted number of hours per week and receiving x amount of days off per year. There isn't usually much scope of working less hours without being paid less, or receiving more time off work without a special reason.

That's true, that is, if you didn't work for the Environment Agency. Here we are entrusted to log our own hours without oversight, holidays taken off are supposed to be recorded on a piece of card with a signature from management for approval, but this rarely happens. What does all this mean? Environment Agency employees (particularly Environment Officers) regularly come in later then they log down, leave much earlier than they report and take many more days off as annual leave than their entitlement.

I've seen fellow colleagues who have taken off as much as 8-12 weeks off work, fully paid, not as sick, but all as annual leave, despite only being contracted to 27 days plus flexidays. I've seen colleagues work less than 30 hours per week, who log down on their time sheets 37-40 hours. But what about line management I hear you ask? They never pay attention, and those that do turn a blind eye to it.

On a daily basis, I see fellow Environment Agency employees putting they work an extra 1-3 hours per day so that their time sheets match their contracted hours, so many of us who are 'supposed' to be doing our 37 hours per week are in fact doing as little as 30 hours per week. Not only that, but we can just take a day off, get the wink from our management and claim it as annual leave or a flexi-day, but in fact, it's never logged. You just complete your time sheet as if you worked that day.

Better yet, you want to take off 9 days next month for that holday to Ibiza, but you only have 8 'official' days leave, no probs, log down an extra hour worked per day (but don't work it) and hey presto, an extra flexi day off giving you 9. Don't worry about line management, if they 'somehow' find out, most will overlook it.

This practice is well known internally and accepted as the norm, but just don't talk about it, because no-one likes a tell all. I've seen it raised and the person raising it be shot down and destroyed. No one wants the party spoiled, so you just join in.

Ask yourself this, as a tax payer or licence payer whose money pays our salaries, how do you feel that we not only get better security and more money than you, but also literally get to choose how many hours we work and how many days holiday we can have, and all with minimal oversight? Don't forget, most of us are regulatory officers with many powers who tell you what to do, yet we flout our own rules - it's the 'do as I say, not as I do' syndrome.

Environment Agency Ops Teams vs "Other" Work-shy EA Teams

14 July, 2014

Who should the media give credit to when reporting the flood fiasco responses last winter? The actual teams on the ground, right on the front line - the Environment Agency Ops guys and girls. These are the lowest on the totem pole within the Environment Agency, poorest paid, they receive only around half as much as an Environment Officer, and they receive the littlest of appreciation. Worst still, they are seldom listened to, despite their local expert knowledge. These are the teams you see on the TV. They are the teams who are actually out working 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week to clear up this mess during an emergency, whilst the remaining bulk of the EA staff sit in warm offices and get the clap on the back on-behalf of these teams for a job well done.

Next time you see the Environment Agency teams manning the pumps, delivering sandbags or helping evacuate people, keep in mind they are likely a lowly paid, poorly respected Ops team carrying out the back breaking "grunt" work - they weren't responsible for the mismanagement and abuse perpetrated by the high paid middle back office/questionable front line staff sitting in comfort luxurious offices - the so called experts: groundwater officers, PR officers, environment officers, flood officers, EM team leaders, etc. who are typically on almost double, even triple the salaries of these poor "grunt" teams (as they are referred to internally).

The questions the Public Accounts Committee should be asking are: have we got the design of the Environment Agency right? Are the right people being employed in the right places? Is the money being spent efficiently? - Paul Harrison thinks so: "It looks to the outside that there are too many conflicting functions at the Environment Agency and a lot of infighting over the funds available. Why don't we adopt the German approach of a Federal Agency that implements policies, but then say, the local authorities carried out the work? Seems to work for them. Why do we need a gigantic Environment Agency with a large staff bill that's fighting over how to spend its budget? Just a thought."

Environment Agency Budget: How Well Do They Spend It?

10 July, 2014

Below are some recent key stats for the Environment Agency, which will help illustrate the dire need for efficiency savings. Efficiency savings of just 10% could yield £120 million for extra flood defences. According to some more senior EA staff, the EA could manage 20-25% efficiency savings, yielding £240-300 million for extra flood defences - one particular area they claim is ripe for action is staffing/overmanning.

A few recent key stats for the Environment Agency:

  • £395 million on wages (£592 million incl pensions) vs £219 million on capital projects + £20 million on maintaining rivers
  • £5 million spent on redundancies but permanent workforce increased from 10,701 to 11,177 in the past year
  • The real employment levels at Environment Agency actually stood at 12,252 people (temps and contractor personnel)
  • £13 million on staff expenses, plus another £17m spent on staff travel
  • £31.5 million and £36.7 million spent on EA Government Procurement (Credit) Cards in 2011/12 and 2012/13 respectively
  • Directors at the agency declined bonuses but 38 managers shared a pool of £334,000
  • Past two years, 14 employees left with six-figure cheques, some in excess of £150,000
  • Spending on maintaining culverts and channels to help the flow of watercourses dipped by £1.3 million last year
  • £3.6 million was trimmed off the budget to build or improve embankments that protect communities from floods
  • Environment Agency spent hundreds on 'equali-tea' gay awareness mugs... and £30,000 on gay pride marches
  • Spent over £250k from 2011 to mid-2012 on meetings at private venues, despite having over two dozen offices around the country
  • Spent almost £1 million hiring dredging equipment after it sold its own machines for just £200,000
  • Nearly 7,000 vehicles (plus trucks) - more than one official vehicle for every two employees
  • Environment Agency bosses spent £2.4 million on PR alone (excluding staff wages)
  • A £2 million Environment Agency case ended with a fine of just £1,000
  • Environment Agency to pay back as much as £1.5 million in another court case that they dropped
  • 20-25% of business travel costs lost to fraudulent cases costing an estimated £1.8-£4.5 million
  • Significant number of man-hours lost in abuse of flexi time, home working and annual leave

Other areas to look into are costs of moving offices, department restructures, lost cases and external training programmes in recent years. This excludes the personal experiences of EA staff who have posted their stories of waste and abuse.

This leads to an important question. Has there ever been an independent audit of the Environment Agency's finances? If not, why not?

Rumour based intelligence system and undercover operations open to abuse at Environment Agency

10 July, 2014

Over the past few years, the Environment Agency have been introducing an intelligence system that is based on the gathering and analysis of intelligence in order to help determine how their resources are targeted. Unlike the police service, where such information is highly classified with access restricted to senior personnel to ensure accountability, the intelligence system in the Environment Agency is open to all Environment Officers, regardless of need, including new recruits.

The troubling aspect of this system is the large amount of unsubstantiated rumour that is required from officers and the public. The information DOES NOT have to be true, as the purpose of the system is to form links between people, vehicles, addresses, etc through number plates, relationships, living arrangements, telephone numbers, etc. The idea behind the system is good, in theory, but in practice, as with other activities within the Environment Agency, it has, and continues to be abused.

I have witnessed individual Environment Officers making up rumours of operators, members of the public and other individuals to which they have a grudge and inputting this onto the system repeatedly to encourage the initiation of an investigation. We have undercover surveillance teams with vans who operate in public - visiting premises as customers, etc based on this information.

The troubling part is that I have witnessed surveillance teams gather sensitive information on these targets, and share them with these same officers (despite no case or evidence being present) for banter. Other officers have inputted rumours of people they dislike on the system for humour alone. The undercover surveillance officers have on a number of occasions, after performing searches and collecting evidence, brought back private materials, such as intimate pictures that have no relation to cases, and shared these with other Environment Agency staff in the office for humour. This is highly distasteful and although I reported these incidents internally on a number of occasions, they were passed off as "isolated" cases and swept under the carpet, but this behaviour still continues.

This system is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act (Subject Access Requests), but does contain substantial and sometimes highly sensitive information on members of the public, much of which is rumour.

With the emergency phone and internet data retention law due to be passed, we must question how much more power agencies like the EA will get receive, especially considering these abuses of the existing system.

Summer Environment Officer - Life of sunbathing & shopping

05 July, 2014

With the sunny weather finally upon us, you won't be surprised to see Environment Officers out and about doing their "work" - sampling, site visits, etc. But this reminds me of all the days my colleagues spent on duty in the field, tops off and sunbathing, the days when they got changed into civi clothes and went shopping in the nearest shopping centre when they were supposed to be "working" and even the days they sat in one of our houses and watched a movies.

You might think these were isolated and one offs, but this was regular and accepted by a large majority of them. It was typical office banter to discuss and laugh about where they'd be sunbathing or shopping.

So if you're sat in your cubical, busy in a crowded ward or battling for life and limb in a foreign country, just remember us brave environmental boys and girls who spend a large amount of this summer, and definitely our past summers, sitting in the sun or shopping, and then getting a big juicy praising from management for being "out and about" doing our "work" and making a difference. And remember, we get paid more than you for this - £25,000 to £31,000 plus car, phone and large pension - forget the soldiers poor salary of £17,000 or the nurses low salary of £20,000.

Maybe next time you see a picture of us in the paper congratulating us on our efforts to protect the environment, you'll remember to keep in mind that we probably spent most of our summer days "dossing off" and relaxing in the field before we stepped foot anywhere near any actual work.

I say this from first-hand experience as an ex-Officer myself.

Enjoy the summer and think of our brave boys and girls in the field.

Infographic: Environment Agency Flood Fiascos - 1998 to 2014

03 July, 2014

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Infographic: Environment Agency Employees Talk - What the Press Won't Report

03 July, 2014

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Infographic: Battle of the Environment Agencies

02 July, 2014

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Quick Environment Agency Round-Up

19 June, 2014

The Flood Commitee has failed to take into account the Environment Agency’s 20-year failure to dredge rivers, nor the cultural and financial failings of the Environment Agency itself, having misspent millions of pounds on inappropriate and unjustified expenses, along with failure to tackle staff member abuses http://po.st/wcGmOR

The Environment Agency has also been criticised for “seriously misleading” people over extent of problem and for failing to act swiftly - this could also be down to staff member failings within the Environmental Management departments - will this finally lead to a review or will further failings be needed? http://po.st/SeKDJl - a Tory MP attacked Environment Agency for saying that the infestation was "not a problem" - problems within EM team? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-27912651

This Flood Committee will be of little use to angry locals concerned that councils & Environment Agency hadn't been maintaining these streams, wasn't clear who was in charge http://www.mix96.co.uk/news/local/1315214/flooding-saga-continues-months-after-homes-dried-up/

Finally, the Flood Committee appears to have ignored the fat identified by us and many other outlets.

The Environment Agency may have to pay back over £1.5m in another dropped case http://bbc.in/1oe2FFh - again, EA culture (especially within EM) seems to be to blame - "...officers were so focused on the potential prospect of punishment that they ignored the realities" http://po.st/YvEx0q

A Environment Agency meeting managed to leave people "angrier than when they arrived" as flood victims fumed over unanswered questions - AGAIN http://bit.ly/1hFP4nw

Is the Environment Agency erecting offending signage without at least consulting with the public - AGAIN? http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sudbury_tacky_warning_signs_taken_down_by_common_lands_rangers_1_3646786

Communities are now uniting to fight floods and taking the responsibility from the EA http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/farming/11250415.Communities_unite_to_fight_floods/?ref=twtrec

A little hope for members of the public and operators - DEFRA is now taking more control of its quangos - acknowledgement of the Environment Agency's cultural and financial failures? http://www.endsreport.com/44046/defra-to-take-more-control-of-its-quangos

A sign that a national flood operator is incapable of cross-agency work? Maybe a sign that some functions are in conflict with others and time for a rethink of hiving off dedicated functions? http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/NEWS/11191015.Submerged_village_questions_proposed_flood_defence_scheme/?ref=twtrec

EA may have to pay back over £1.5m in dropped case

11 June, 2014

Anyone familiar with this blog and its authors won't be surprised to see another case of Environment Agency ineptitude. It appears the Environment Agency have had to drop another case against a potential polluter and in the process will have to cover court costs exceeding £1.5 million. Not a position a "cash strapped" organisation should be in, especially considering almost two decades of poor flood defence investments.

Although the EA official specifically states that there were no procedural issues, our prior EA experience tells us that it will likely come down to poor procedural process, lack of training or even simple laziness. It is not a good sign that after a year of publicly exposing the waste, incompetence and abuse that these issues are still prevalent. No other explanation has been offered for dropping this case, just as with previous cases that have been dropped and likely will be no internal reviews or public enquiries.

Mr Share expressed what has been exposed here: "we believe that their officers were so focused on the potential prospect of punishment that they ignored the realities"

Environment Agency River Trent pollution charges dropped against waste firm | Environment Agency failed prosecution

Prior Environment Agency Staff Experiences #7

30 May, 2014

Here are the latest insights from other Environment Agency staff:

Felix: "An important piece of advice for permit holders, fishers etc - ALWAYS CHALLENGE THE DECISION THAT WE MAKE, BECAUSE 9 times out of 10 WE'VE MADE A MISTAKE, and its YOU who will pay IF YOU DO NOT CHALLENGE IT. Take it from someone who has 10 years experience working for the EA doing prosecutions."

"Another thing - if the EA want to save loads of cash, then they should GET RID OF LEASE CARS THAT SIT IDEAL 90% OF THE TIME, and buy POOL CARS for every office. Every single FIELD OFFICER HAS A LEASE CAR THAT THEY ONLY USE A HANDFUL OF TIMES A MONTH!"

Al: "Hi I worked as a data officer a few years ago and left the job because there was so little challenge. I could have turned up for work for 6 months, done nothing and nobody would have noticed and if my line managers did notice they would not have challenged it because there is just not a culture of accountability at the environment agency. I have read here about employees using contracted hours for personal things and that is exactly the sort of practice that was going and I am not proud to say that I engaged in this sort of thing. Not because I thought it was right but because the management lets their employees get away with it. I could fiddle expenses, time claims, working hours, work that I had undertaken. There must have been times when I said I was going out to do a 2 hour job and taken 4 hours about it and just chilled for the rest of the time. I was also allowed to claim £5 a day for food expenses (subsistence) for a lunch when out of the office. Is that still allowed? It was not unheard of to have a cheap lunch and get a pizza for dinner later with the same £5. I had a company car to get me about. Admittedly I couldn't drive it for personal business and at no time did I ever for fear of being liable for third party damage if there was an accident. But even so I had a car that could get me to and from work with £0 servicing and maintenance. This was all paid for through the company. Company phone too! I had to pay for my own calls which was done through some expense system but even that was at a cushty rate so saved me a whole lot of cash. There was also quite a culture of theft of company property. If there was a DIY project that I needed doing I would use company materials instead of getting my own and would not hesitate to use company tools (some of which I still have) to complete the job. Despite the short comings of some EA employees, some of the insults that are being made on this blog in my view are unjust. "Bone idle" and "imbred moron" are not particularly useful description of EA employees and the spelling mistake made when writing "inbred" is an indication of the level of intellect of the people writing them. Back in the late noughties (2006 to 2009) when I worked there things were different. The government had the money (or at least thought they did) to fund such frivolous spending but in this day and age it is clear that such waste in the public sector needs to be reigned in particularly when there are more vital government services that could be improved through extra funding. I am surprised that not much seems to have changed in the 5 years since leaving the EA and it seems the same malpractice seems to prevail. When I worked there there was a hardcore of middle aged middle managers who simply used to EA as a place to tick over in employment at the tax payer's expense until they are old enough to collect their pension and this culture filters down through the ranks."

ExEO: "I think what people outside the EA fail to realise is that the people who work there do not have the publics interest at heart. There is too much office politics (above the norm for any organisation, let alone a public one). People are not employed based on merit or ability, but on who you know and whose back you have scratched. This internal mentality has resulted in fiefdoms, paranoia and poor leadership. All the good people leave early and all the poor performers stay on longest (employment for life pretty much no matter how shoddy your work is)."

John: "You can consider me one of those senior EA manager - worked in various functions for 9 years, the last 3 as a AEM before leaving in 2011. Most functions outside of FCRM are over funded and inefficient (sustainable places, biodiversity, groundwater, fisheries, even EM itself). At least a fifth of the budget could be re-allocated to higher priority projects by reducing these functions without any detrimental impact to their ability to meet legislative requirements. Unfortunately, the Pitt Review from the 2007 floods was rushed, so didn't go far enough, otherwise, the EA would not again be in the position it is in. That being said, there are some very fine, hard-working and dedicated employees."

Police Federation fiasco the future of the Environment Agency

20 May, 2014

Watching the Police Federation fiasco, it leads one to think what the public and government reaction would be once the culture of the Environment Agency is fully exposed. Many charges levied against the Environment Agency are identical to those against the Police Fed - politically motivated, chronic bullying, questionable activities and widespread malpractice.

What has led to this government taking on the Police Fed? Could it be the involvement of a Conservative MP and the threat from Police Fed staffers discrediting the government? What could be the lack of action against the Environment Agency? Could it be that it was created during a Conservative government? Would this Conservative government have as much gusto to tackle the Environment Agency if they only knew the political activities the EA undertake, especially those in opposition to this government? One can only wonder.

All we know is that considering what has been occurring inside the Environment Agency, we're surprised about the lack of action from the government in tackling that mess compared to the comparatively 'minor' activities undertaken by the Police Fed.

Reliving the Environment Agency Flood Fiascos 1998-2013

14 May, 2014

With this year's flood fiasco falling to the back of the public's mind, we have decided now is a good time to show how this saga with the Environment Agency has been repeated time and again throughout it's history. The question we should ask ourselves is, what are the odds we will be reliving this saga again next year?

Here is just the tip of the iceberg and we suggest those interested do a quick Google search to see the full extent of the EA's failure in it's duties over the past several years, despite its budget growing exponentially:

Beginning of 2013, the Environment agency under fire for ‘cheating’ to dodge beach pollution - not the first or last time they have been caught misleading the public, the EA was warned about the failure to clear river and the fear of flooding and farmers slammed Environment Agency over flood protection

In 2012, Environment Agency apologised for missing Rothbury flood alert and there were several flood defence failures, an investigation into the EA's Kempsey pumping station failureEnvironment Agency looks at defence failure in Ruthinanger after flood defences fail to protect Huddersfield homes and Environment Agency apologises for missing Rothbury flood alert, no wonder there was serious questions being asked about Britain’s flood defences

In 2011, even Labour had accused Defra of wasting money destined for vital flood defences and reviving rural communities and Environment Agency urged to reconsider flood defence options for Pickering asked to not look for ‘a Rolls Royce solution to a Ford problem’.

In 2010, the Environment Agency was criticised for binding the countryside in red tape - did they learn and adjust?

In 2009, they were criticised for the cost of their PR machine, despite lack of investment in flood defences at the time (also keep in mind that since then, the EA's budget has risen over two-fold, and they still have failed to increased flood defence investments), the Environment Agency was accused of hypocrisy for the number of short haul flights, Environment Agency had 'failed to heed' flood warnings back in 2009 (and years prior to and since), and the EA wanted to flood Lincolnshire farmland (deja vu?)

In 2008, questions were asked why a £14 million flood defence failed? / Flood warning system has to be changed after Environment Agency admitted Morpeth error

In 2007, Surrey flood victims had rapped the Environment Agency criticising them for poor performance having been flooded twice, Agency criticised for failing to prevent Alston floods£10m flood defences couldn't cope and Public Accounts Committee has singled out the Environment Agency for particular criticism in a new report into this summer's floods (poor money management back then too?), no wonder flood victims told Environment Agency bosses to hand back five-figure bonuses and there was a call for investigation after floods (extra money didn't help then either - extra cash has not improved flood defences, MPs say)

In 2006, the EA decided to sue the designers of failed Jubilee River flood defence, despite their failure to control the project

In 2004, Environment Agency was told flood warnings 'not good enough'

In 2000, a Committee criticised the Agency for delay in creating an effective, coherent and confident new body - would you say they were an effective, coherent and confident new body

Even in 1998, UK Flood report condemns Environment Agency / Floods inquiry attacks Environment Agency

Recently, evidence came out that the Environment Agency allowed 190,000 new homes on flood plains since it formed despite concerns could be uninsurable (talk about skewed objectives i.e. more homes at risk of flooding, more funding for the EA)

Let us not also forget the details behind the unforgivable flood fiascos in 2000/01, from which "major improvements" should have already been made to prevent these repeated "mistakes" - lessons learned indeed!

Environment Agency Gagging Clauses

13 May, 2014

'Gagging clauses' in government pay-offs criticised

Like many other government employees who have witnessed abuse, mistreatment and other "systemic failures", our ability to fully expose these failings is severely handicapped due to the 'gagging clauses' (aka pay-offs) we have received from the Environment Agency. Being family men and women, our families come first when making decisions. The use of 'gagging clauses' by the EA is endemic and is the main reason why you won't find many EA whistleblowers openly coming forth. Even the originator of this blog is restricted by his 'gagging clause' to give specific examples, or to even openly give his identity.

The use of government 'gagging clauses' is seriously inhibiting the ability of whilsteblowers to expose these systemic failures and their continued use (at least without full public disclosure) will continue to undermine democracy. Something to keep in mind when questioning government whilsteblowers abilities to openly come out.

Considering the large pay-offs we have all received, it at least vindicates our opinion that what we witnessed is real and serious!

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