Edie.net have published news regarding the Dredging Up Trouble report written by Blueprint for Water partners. The timing is, of course, very circumspect with us now entering the critical winter period, whereby we can expect more challenging weather (although I insist these should still be within the EA’s modelling, considering their priorities, main remit and the large sums they receive to ensure that this country is protected from a spectrum of conditions that typically lead to flooding – otherwise, there is a large proportion of 11,000-12,000 employed staff doing nothing).
Anyway, time is short, so a real quick run down of the report’s ten priority areas and our take on them:
Protecting life and public health
Already failed on this priority area numerous times – see this blog’s posts, news archive and other media sources (just to name one such recent incident: Environment Agency & council were aware of potential risks of ground gas from an old landfill site next to the family’s home). Protection of/further funding not necessary – the EA simply needs to become more transparent and follow correct procedures. EA already have far more manpower than is required for enforcement of legislation in addition to their other statutory duties.
Natural Flood Management
Already legislation in place to ensure that third-parties (farmers, developers, local authorities etc) ensure appropriate natural and man-made flood management. Mainly manpower driven, which the EA have a huge pool of. Further funding certainly not necessary. Getting staff to actually follow up and complete their work is perhaps a higher priority here.
New Flood Defences
Government already allocated an additional large pool of funding this year to build new, and maintain existing, flood defences. I question how the funding was spent, and how further funding for “new flood defences” will be spent. There are very few control measures employed within the EA to ensure that the funding is spent efficiently on priority projects. More emphasis should be placed on proper prioritisation and efficient spending of existing funding rather than increasing funding.
See new flood defences
See natural flood management
Coping with Climate Change
Beyond natural flood management, new flood defences (within reason), flood recovery and sustainable drainage, and a few minor functions, the Environment Agency would be overstepping their remit – think DECC. The funding level required for ANY organisation to deal with climate change would be astronomical.
Defending Transport & Utilities
Why would the Environment Agency be responsible for defending transport and utilities. Beyond natural flood management, new flood defences (within reason), flood recovery and sustainable drainage, and a few minor functions, the Environment Agency would be overstepping their remit. Most transport and utility organisations are private, and have their own redundancy and security provisions in place. In addition, police, military, local authorities, etc already have remits for the protection/defence of transport and utilities.
Enough staff for emergencies
More than enough staff to cover a large spectrum of emergencies – problem is that too many staff refuse to carry out this duty as part of their contracts. Further emergency assistance is offered by local authority, police, fire and military personnel, to name but a few. Protection of/further funding not necessary. Efficiency and priorities are more important here.
Enforcing the rules
See protecting life and public health – Environment Agency already have far more manpower than is required for enforcement of legislation in addition to their other statutory duties. Plenty of examples on this blog and in the media of EA enforcement officers failing to enforce legislation and even failing to follow procedures when they do, resulting in failed prosecutions (and thus wasting taxpayer funds better spent elsewhere).
A duty of care to communities
See protecting life and public health – Environment Agency already have far more manpower than is required for enforcement of legislation in addition to their other statutory duties. The problem here is too many cases of staff failing in their duties.
I’m sure the report went into far more detailed provisions for each priority, but remove all the make-up and you’re left with the above. It’s almost as if senior managers from the EA/EA hired consultants/EA funded groups wrote the report – plenty of duplication within the top ten priorities, huge emphasis on expanding remit, and nothing mentioned about efficiencies and control measures. Says it all really.