How did the Environment Agency spend a big increase in its grant last year?

Amidst all the talk about cuts there has of course been no analysis of how much money the Environment Agency, the main body to control flooding, has received. The BBC never wants the figures to get in the way of a good cuts story.

In 2014-15 the Environment Agency received a grant of £890 million, compared to £652 million the year before. Ministers made clear they wanted more to be done to curb and prevent flooding. In particular they demanded dredging of Somerset rivers after the disaster in the Somerset levels and asked the EA to work with local interests elsewhere on river maintenance, dredging and weeding.

The Agency was given the following as its first two objectives:

 

Corporate Target 1a   to “improve protection from flooding for more households”

and Corporate Target 1b  to “maintain flood and coastal risk management assets at or above the required level”

The Environment Agency reported that it did carry out the specific instruction to dredge Somerset rivers, with work on “an 8kn stretch of the Parrett and Tone rivers”. They pledged to “better maintain these waterways in the future”.

In the rest of the country the EA gingerly embarked on some pilot joint ventures with local interests over river maintenance to remove weeds and silt. There is no sense of urgency or of any widespread new approach communicated in the report. So where did the money go?

 

Staff costs stayed high at £412 million for the year, with a continuous big build up in pension liabilities. Back liabilities amounted to £707 million at the March 2015 date.

There was capital spending of £281 million. This figure included £41 million on risk strategies and maps rather than on ditches, better river beds and embankments.

Redundancies were down on the previous year, but 9  people still left on packages in excess of £100,000 each.

Ministers need to ask again about how all their 10,000 staff are deployed, and ask again about policy towards maintaining rivers and anti flood structures.

 

It’s not so much the quantity of money that is the issue, but what you spend it on. The UK debate is so often about the need for additional money and so rarely about what all the committed money is spent on at the moment.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

123 Comments

  1. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    It seems that this part of the civil service is out of control. Why does the CEO only work three days a week? Why does there seem to be a gap between what the government wants it to do and what it actually delivers? Why after the 2013-14 floods does there not seem to be any effective ministerial control over it? Its not as if the ministerial team at DEFRA is short staffed. What are the two SPADs there, with a £53,000 – £69,999 pay packet each, doing for their money?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Only part? The ministers rather like detaching themselves from the problem with these inefficient quangos but the only people who have any interest and power to ensure these organisation do anything useful are MPs who are supposed to act in the interest of their constituents in order to get re-elected . Alas this mechanism is so weak as to be virtually useless. We thus get endless tax money wasted on bloated quangos and government doing little of any value. Leave the tax with the people and they may be able to build their houses away from flood areas or build them in such a was as not to be damaged much when they do.

      Or let the people in a local risk area have to money to spend protecting themselves. If they get it wrong it is they who will flood.

      • Dame rita webb
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Yes thinking about it you are absolutely correct. We have an army that has more horses than tanks. A Home Office which does not know who is coming in and out of the country. While the judiciary thinks that a foreign born murderer/rapist has more constitutional protections than someone born here. Without HM Queen, the only part of the Constitution that does her job beyond expectations, there is nothing to stop you accurately describing the UK as a banana republic. I can see why you no longer want to live here.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        Still I see some in the state sector have a real dedication to duty as traffic wardens have been ticketing cars stranded by the floods. It’s an ill wind ….as they say.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          I suppose it is better than actually looting the abandoned houses but very close to the same activity.

        • alan jutson
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic

          “Traffic wardens ticketing Cars stranded by the floods…”

          This just about sums up what is all wrong with much public sector type management.

          Too many Oafs working with absolutely no commonness because they want to get the paperwork right, and have been told/instructed with a very narrow brief, by someone equally incompetent who is again overseen by someone who wants to protect their own backside at no matter what cost to the public.

          Its all difficult to believe, but unfortunately true.

          How has this great Country of innovation, design and compassion been reduced to such depths.

          • APL
            Posted December 31, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            alan jutson: “How has this great Country of innovation, design and compassion been reduced to such depths.”

            40 – 50 percent of the economy is under government control.

            A trend started during the first world war and never rolled back.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Dame Rita

      Absolutely. Good post, totally agree

      • Timaction
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        The Government is no longer fit for purpose as they impose laws from Brussels with no care to the consequences for the British people.
        Where is Jerry with all these sensible postings regarding the causes and consequences of the flooding?

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The cuts are of course relative to what could have been spent

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, have a pat on the back! Excellent research
    Yesterday you asked what effect EU: Directives have had. Well, some research (EUReferendum blog has the references – look sat Dr North’s comments) has shown that what changed in 2000 was the direction of river maintenance. Instead of humdrum dredging, cleaning weeds, looking after the dykes and cuts (Fen technology there!), the emphasis was now on clean water, free from pollution, and also on making rivers safe for ecology and swimming.
    The bureaucracy has mushroomed. I note that on our local two rivers, there are now two boards which carry out EU ideas to the letter. I looked a couple of years ago at their start up statement, written so badly that I used it as a lesson plan for how to write appalling English!
    This is a man-made disaster in the North. Bureaucrats filling their boots with our money and to hell with the rivers and the flooding.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Hear hear.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Exactly. But it is the government who presided over this QUANGO system. A system that is bound to act in this way, given human nature.

      • Mitchel
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Over the holiday I have been re-reading Orlando Figes “Peoples Tragedy”,a history of the Russian Revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union;his detailed description of how the venal,incompetent,self-serving”party-state” was developed is astonishing in it’s relevance to what is going on here and in much of the West today-without a revolution.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          Indeed.

    • oldtimer
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I think you are onto something. I had a look at the EU directive on water policy:
      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32000L0060
      helpfully supplied by another commenter a couple of days ago.

      No doubt it was produced, in part, to seek to remedy the ghastly pollution of waterways that occurred in Eastern Europe in the Communist era. But it has also, no doubt, spawned the bureaucracy that accompanies every EU directive. I also note it offers this get out of gaol card for the Eurocracy in its opening preamble:
      “(13) There are diverse conditions and needs in the Community which require different specific solutions. This diversity should be taken into account in the planning and execution of measures to ensure protection and sustainable use of water in the framework of the river basin. Decisions should be taken as close as possible to the locations where water is affected or used. Priority should be given to action within the responsibility of Member States through the drawing up of programmes of measures adjusted to regional and local conditions.”

      But as you say there is no reference to the needs of people in the directive. The consequences of that neglect are obvious for all to see. It remains to be seen whether this government will step up to its responsibilities to those who actually elected it to office. So far the record does not impress. It appears that local knowledge often has been ignored and time honoured, proven practices abandoned.

    • turbo terrier
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Mike.

      No arguements with any of that. Bang on the nose

  4. DaveM
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    “Ministers need to ask again about how all their 10,000 staff are deployed, and ask again about policy towards maintaining rivers and anti flood structures.”

    From watching tv broadcasts, they appear to be deployed in hard hats and high-vis vests, carrying clipboards and getting in the way of the public who are actually trying to sort things out!

    I haven’t read the papers a lot recently – how much have the Leave campaign(s) managed to publish about (a) EU regulations preventing govt intervention in the steel industry, and (b) the effect EU water directives have had regarding flooding? These are things which should be shouted out loud, surely?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed they will be doing lots of PR, propaganda and damage limitation.

      Lots more consultants and reports will be needed too.

      • Geoff not Hoon
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        LL… search UK Shoreline Management Plan 2 (SMP2) and see what the highly skilled (not sure in what) Consultants say about the UK as a whole, mainly in respect of their favourite subject, rising sea levels!. The report affects me and has already significantly reduced house values with worse to come we fear.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          Yet we know sea levels are increasing no more quickly than they have done for many years.

      • Mark
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        The minutes of their latest board meeting contain an extensive report on their PR effort, emphasising a Stalinesque approval rating of 99% in media reports they monitor (I guess they exclude certain columnists like Booker from their count). I wonder what that will look like next quarter.

      • Timaction
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t hear one mention of the El Nino that’s is occurring (as it does every few years) as we write in the southern Hemisphere and its impact on…………..global weather, moreover, no mention of the EU directive implemented by the Environment Agency with bells on. Just one lady interviewed who wanted them to dredge her river.
        Anyone would think there’s gross incompetence or climate change religion afoot.

  5. Antisthenes
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    A classic example of the misuse and waste of money. An inevitable outcome when control of that money is in the hands of a public body when that body is a monopoly which invariably it is. Bureaucrats like nothing better than to feather their own nests. Like the rest of us but unlike us they have the means and opportunities to do so. They empire build, ensure high salaries, privileges and perks for themselves.

    Normally that process is not easily observable to the general public as bureaucrats and public sector workers tend to keep what they do away from public gaze. Aided by the fact that accountability is difficult to build into that type of system.

    However there is one place the general public can observe how a monopoly works in practice and that is in their local GP surgery. It cannot normally be observed there unless knowledge of how a similar GP surgery operates when it is not a monopoly.

    The NHS is a monopoly and the French healthcare service is not and so I can see what the differences are having observed both in action. In a UK surgery it can immediately be seen that it is teeming with administration staff all devouring money so less is available for patient care. Everything is regimented there is strict adherence to rules so as to make the working environment as comfortable as possible for those who work at the surgery.

    Because a French GP is paid directly by the patients(it works without causing economic hardship but that is another story about funding which is also different than in the UK) and have to compete for customers(patients) they organise their surgery to maximise their income. They do so by making their services attractive and as cost effective as they can. Regimentation, rules and administration staff are kept to the minimum. It varies but having to make an appointment is not the norm, often there is no receptionists or just a part time one and for administration staff there as far as I could observe there were none.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Indeed free at the point of rationing, delay and often non treatment.

    • stred
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      My better half is highly medically qualified and works long hours. Over the holiday she was working on her I phone while on the stairs and fell, badly injuring her ankles, which went black. My doctor was unavailable, so we travelled to her home, where hers was also too busy and recommended a nearby walk in clinic which had x ray facilities.

      We arrived at 10.30am and were told it would take at least 3 hours to see a clinician.There were 4 staff on the reception desks. Despite being in pain when standing, she was asked to fill in a long form including racial groups and details of the car. I left and came back at 4.30pm. She was still sitting on a chair, had been unable to fetch a cup of tea and had not been seen by anyone. Some patients who came later had been seen.There were about 20 other patients. We were told it may take another 3 hours. I went to move the car and met a receptionist who told me the wait was 5 hours the day before. I went in again to find she had been taken to see the doctor. Then she came out after 5 minutes. There was one doctor, who had a West African accent. She was told she had a bad sprain and probably had not broken anything- so she did not need an x ray.

      It seemed crazy that the NHS loses a third of British staff and recruits from abroad, then pays foreign doctors very highly to provide very slow and poor service, while needing 4 support staff to process patients needing a few minutes of diagnosis.

      It also occurred to me that if the many highly paid managers had their salaries and pensions halved and payoffs stopped, what could they do about it? Leave and get a job in the Cuban NHS. What other country would need them?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        The 3 hours is a rationing mechanism they employ as they do not charge. They do not want a reputation for being very quick as then loads more patients would turn up at that A and E. GP just tend to make it hard to make an appointment in the first place. The NHS has your money already so patients are just a nuisance to be deterred by delays and inconvenience. The patients should be paying customers, then it would be very different.

      • Timaction
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        A lot of our Doctors, particularly the young ones are off to the former colonies who treat and pay them well. Just a shame we have to pay for their training!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 31, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          Indeed training doctors costs about £500K. We have more non UK doctors as a proportion than any other EU country. We need to train far more but with loans they have to repay. Loads of people perfectly capable of being doctors but cannot get places. The economics are made far worse as doctors hours are now very limited by the EU laws and over 50% are female (who tend to work rather less and take career breaks once qualified). They could be trained far more quickly and efficiently, perhaps for more restricted areas of medicine starting earlier in their training. Does a cataract surgeon really need 7 years training and work experience on the whole body before they train to do endless cataract operations? Do they even need to be a doctor?

      • Mark B
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        I am sorry to hear this, stred and I hope your wife recovers soon. I am afraid that your description very much mirrors my own experiences with the NHS. More interested in ticking boxes and not getting sued than actual patient care. When you even hear foreigners from Eastern Europe complain of the poor services, you know you are in trouble.

      • Mark
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        I could tell a similar tale over a relative’s broken ankle – Ambulance arrived promptly, but staffed by two slight women, unprepared to drive it past a garden wall, so left nearly 100 yards from house, no adequate wheelchair for patient transport, and threat of 90 mins parked outside A&E if they took her. Arranged to go to walk-in centre – long wait for X-ray, decided should have been sent to A&E, more waiting, put in thigh length plaster cast for transport, no ambulance offered, unable to travel other than across back bench seat (no seatbelt), further long wait for admission, about 8 hours after original incident.

  6. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I saw Sky News early this morning and the newspaper review. Naturally the recent bad weather and the flooding was discussed.

    Some evidence of the real problem our country has was illustrated by the comments of Liz Kershaw. In respect to dredging she said that if rivers were dredged all that would happen would be that the flow of water would be speeded up and it would make matters worse! She clearly has no concept of the difference between speed and capacity. The country is sadly full of such people who have been misled by others with a subversive agenda.

    I live a few miles from the Thames; walking along the banks last year just downstream from Lechlade I was struck by the number of trees which overhung it, with branches trailing in the water in many places perhaps 20 feet into the flow. At this point the Thames is still meant to be a navigable waterway.

    Many rivers are neglected through lack of clearance in the same way and it is stating the blindingly obvious that when overgrowth breaks away in flood conditions it stops at the next obstruction – apart from being an obstruction in itself – endangering and blocking flow under bridges, which might otherwise be avoided or reduced. Maybe those who should be dealing with this sort of thing put birds and fish before people and property and thus deliberately and consciously do nothing.

    It’s almost pointless to hope that a virtually useless bureaucracy like the Environment Agency would have a change of attitude and, instead of spending £41 million on risk analysis and maps, would get people off their flabby backsides and away from their computer screens and send them out with chain saws and the like to cut away and clear all such overgrowth. It would do every office wallah a world of good to learn how to use one and how to drag the cut branches out on to the bank.

    Fat chance! They are so detached from the real world that such an idea will be considered ludicrous. But what if their houses were at risk and in danger?

    • agricola
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Yes increasing the capacity through dredging would slow the flow. Rapids occur in relatively shallow water.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Dear Agricola–I have heard it said that still waters run deep. All this stuff is hardly a matter of opinion. In my kind of world every man Jack and Jill in the EA would be fired, then sued for the damage they have caused. Their no doubt palatial buildings, stuffed to the gills with newts I’ll wager, should be used to house MP’s while the Commons is rebuilt. What exactly does anybody think would happen if there were no EA? I like newts and used to bring them home in a jam jar as a child. Probably illegal now so the lawyers benefit more than the newts.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

          Postscript–Sorry, but I hope the above conveys the absolute derision and contempt I feel for the do-gooder mindset behind anything and everything to do with the EA–and to think they spend our money for it (whatever “it” is)–and at a time, yet, when we are trying to eradicate a still huge deficit adding all the time to an even more huge debt. God help us.

          • Timaction
            Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            The EA are too busy on their internal diversity challenges and policies, risk assessments and leaving the natural habitat to its own devices to save the flora and fauna under EU dictates whilst the nation floods! They are also busy trying to find ways to pay for their significant pension deficit!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        No increasing the capacity of the river (its cross sectional area) would clearly increase the net flow. Flow rate is proportional to water speed X cross the sectional area. True you get higher water speeds in restricted areas of river but not higher flow rates. Indeed the flow rate is largely the same along the river length (other than the fact that it increases as further tributaries and rain fall add to the river size).

        The problem is that increasing the flow in one area pushes the problem down steam to the next restriction and this thus give higher flood levels down stream. You have to give all the river sufficient flow capacity or have flood plains and holding areas to hold the excess back for a while.

        Or build houses on stilts, floating houses or with waterproofed ground floors.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Well you have to increase the flow capacity of the rivers sufficiently to cope (and all the way to the estuary or b) or you to have flood planes and reservoirs to hold the water back until the river flow capacity can take it. Or position the houses better or design their ground floors better to take occasional floods.

      It is not rocket science just water flowing how it always does and always has done.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        lifelogic

        Exactly.

        The problem is theses so called experts think only in small areas, thus very often they just move the problem along.

        Thick as two planks comes to mind in trying to describe them.

        I guarantee most of them are not even aware that water flows downhill and finds its own level and route when it meets an obstruction.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Well, I’m a fan of the Bernard Cornwell historical novels about the early England and the Danish invasions – some of them were recently dramatised on the BBC as “The Last Kingdom” – and one of the stories partly revolves around the trees overgrowing the Thames concealing the Viking longboats but also the West Saxon troops. So you see, having the Thames partially blocked with live and fallen trees is just allowing it to revert towards its proper natural state, in accordance with EU policy and law. Of course the population of England at that time was only about 3 million, so the other part of the plan should be to reduce the present population by 95%.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Prangwizard

      Agree with your comments absolutely.

      We have been walking the Thames path for a few years now (having done the whole length by boat more than once) we are now halfway along it, having started from Lechlade, and I would agree absolutely with your comments.

      Fallen trees and branches only seem to get cleared when they either get stuck against lock gates or on weirs, in many parts river banks are also collapsing.

      It is absolutely clear that the Thames is not being managed/maintained as it should.

      Likewise many small rivers and steams which run into it.

    • Original Richard
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      As someone has already posted on this site, it is not possible to imagine flooding occuring if the rivers were dredged to a depth of 100 metres.

    • stred
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Capital spending £281m, of which £41m is paperwork. £240m of capital spending. Staff costs £412m. Engineers and architects in private practise usually are running around £10m of building value per person in order to earn their fees and modest salaries. Redundancies rarely were more than a few thousand and often in hundreds when employed for three years. How are redundancies of £100k arrived at when the EA is increasing staff. If the redundancy is made because the employee is incable, why not just sacked. If they have no function- who appointed them. Questions should be asked.

  7. Richard1
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    There is an urgent need to introduce accountability throughout the public sector, as it exists – in theory – in the private sector. If the EA has not followed both the letter and the spirit of its orders from our elected government then the management should be held accountable and fired. I don’t have a problem with paying decent money for good people to run public sector bodies, but there must be fear of failure to go with it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Accountability! Almost no one in the state sector ever get fired and when they do they actually just resign with a big pay off. Some who have presided over complete disasters, like the piss poor bank regulation, the poor bank rescues or the ERM even end up being honoured for it.

      Daft employment laws prevent accountability. Anyway it is not their money what do they care!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Many who have failed abjectly at one senior state sector job just get appointed to fail again at another. There are many examples, but better not to name them for legal reasons.

  8. agricola
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    It would seem to me that the major cost to government both national and local and therefore the beleaguered tax payer are pension liabilities. Time for government to change the system to one where the worker pays for his own pension with tax advantages in doing so. This would put all civil servants at all levels in exactly the same position as the self employed.

    Before doing so , government would need to give thought as to how to restrain the pension industry in the UK from many of its’ dubious practices. This is long overdue for those currently affected. It has been estimated that UK pensions are worth about 33% less than equivalent Dutch or Danish ones due to the lack of such practises in those countries.

    Having removed that liability, taxes in general would reduce and more of the allocated money to various ministries could be spent on front line requirements.

  9. Ted Monbiot
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    The overall policy and strategy of the EA has been driven by the European Water Framework Directive which the UK passed into law in 2000.
    Read this directive it and it is easy to see why flooding is worse and more widespread.
    Just one simple example:- It makes any debris removed from a river classified as an hazardous waste.
    This has made dredging and regular river bank clearing a very expensive exercise.
    Before the directive existed, the spoils were heaped up on the banks or placed in nearby fields, as had been done for centuries.
    Now it has to be transported away to a hazardous waste treatment site at a cost of approx £50 per tonne.
    And an environmental risk excerise has to be completed showing real need and no negative effect to the natural environment.
    Any crayfish or rare weeds and permission will be refused.
    So as a result little or no such work has been done since 2000.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      It would appear that the EU is waging economic warfare against us, all in order to save the planet or at any rate return us to the mesolithic age.

      Luckily for the EU, they have traitors like CMD working for them, ably assisted by the those who fund and promote the emergence of such leaders against their more able, more patriotic colleagues.

      • Ted Mombiot
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        It is only when things like the disaster of the Somerset Levels and this current flooding happen, do those in power suddenly realise what they have signed casually into law back in 2000 and the unexpected consequences of those laws.
        EU directives get transferred into UK law without proper scrutiny.
        Their long term effects can be dramatic as we see here.
        In a sad attempt to appear pro EU they fail to protect us from poor laws.

        • forthurst
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

          I fail to see how deliberately ceasing husbandry of rivers would have unexpected consequences any more than closing down reliable and economically viable generation plant in favour of green crap would not have entirely predictible consequences for our industry. The fact that the spoil dredged up has to be treated as toxic waste is verification that this is economic warfare.

          The sooner we stop taking orders from foreigners, and that includes those that tell us to fight their illegal wars of choice, the better.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      FFS are these people stupid? Perhaps Sir Philip can come up to Keswick and see what environmental damage the EU has done to the rivers around here? The Greta is clogged with large trees which will now not be doing their bit in the war against greenhouse gases. While the flow of the river was so intense that it cut away vast swaths the river banks themselves. So we can only presume that the homes of a load of moles, voles and otters have been destroyed too. The water also scoured away the riverside paths. So if its was travelling with that velocity you can be guaranteed that the EUs precious lesser spotted Albanian whelks have been washed away into the Irish Sea too.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Its worse even than that on the coast where the policy of the EA is one of non interference in nature.
        The Victorians fought coastal erosion and on most occasions won the battle to save the land but we have become feeble and so now if your home or business is threatened by an encroaching sea they will do nothing.

  10. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Comments here the other day about an under used Dredger:

    “after which it was berthed at Abingdon lock and didn’t move for the next 6 months. At the end of the season it returned downstream for winter, having not once being put to use. We were informed by the EA that they were in dispute with the Fisheries Agency, who had effectively banned dredging to protect the fish and water life”

    Nice work if you can get it? Argue…do nothing/little and consume good money.

    The Dutch brought their pumps to the Somerset Levels and I guess that was it from them? Don’t know if they proposed anything and if so it was probably common sense stuff. How do you fix a wrecked system where parties have counter interests?

    Will line fishing (to keep) continue? Farage says line caught Bass is banned from this Jan…add to ban the EU list:

    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/12/28/farage-for-breitbart-brussels-is-targeting-uk-fishermen-like-me-and-the-uk-papers-ignore-it/

  11. Mark B
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Staff costs stayed high at £412 million for the year, with a continuous big build up in pension liabilities. Back liabilities amounted to £707 million at the March 2015 date.

    And that is what all this is about. Labour created large bureaucratic monsters into which many of their fellow university trained friends went to feed of the tax payer. The BBC, the Civil Service and government are the same – one giant pension fund for people who have qualifications that are next to useless in the wider world except at telling people what to do. Enough I say !

    It is high time that there was a root and branch review of what people are paid in the public sector. No one should ever be paid more that the PM. The late Lady Thatcher never took more than a MP’s salary but did a far better job than many of the jobsworths that infect our country.

    It is high time that those whose responsibility it is fall on their sword, and not a penny in compensation should be made. We need to stop rewarding failure. Private companies may do it, but government does not.

    You Mr. Redwood MP sir are and elected representative along with the other 649 MP’s, one of which is the PM. I need not remind you that it is your collective responsibility to look after the public purse. It is comforting to know that you are doing just that. It is therefore, such a shame that others do not, much preferring to have their photos taken wearing wellies, then holding people and agencies such as the EA to account.

    • Daniel Thomas
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Hear Hear!

      Excellent comment, sums it up perfectly

  12. Shieldsman
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    One might ask what qualifications the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chairman of the Environment Agency have for running the department and agency.
    The previous Chairman was a political appointment – say no more.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Pretty much how most government departments spend their money on pensions, high wages, endless discussions, high paid consultant “experts”, PR propaganda and very little actual work like dredging and flood protection measures so much nicer not to get your hands dirty.

    If you spend someone else’s money on something for someone else, then you care not what you pay nor what value you get. Better just to spend the money your nice offices and high wages and pensions for the staff. This is what most heads of these quangos tend to think.

    But then whose fault it that? It is the government. They fund them, yet fail totally to ensure that systems are in place to ensure they do the right things with the money and work efficiently. Given human nature and the way this is set up it was bound to spend the money in this wasteful way.

    I see the Guest Editors on Today are getting even more “BBC think” with Miriam González Durántez (Nick Clegg’s wife) a Lawyer. Libdim and “equality” and other issues Lobbyist. Right up the BBC’s street, and thus wrong on nearly every issue.

    • stred
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Clegg was also a director until last year of a large Spanish utility which is into renewables, like the wind turbines. The Spanish reversed their subsidies recently.

      (Apologies for my keyboard malfunction last night. Perhaps you would moderate the attempt. On a new laptop today)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Well at least the green crap subsidies are slowly dying, they have done huge damage.

  14. formula57
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Excellent research indeed. Thank you.

    What the public needs now surely is for some culpable minister to ape New Labour predecessors and shamefacedly announce that the Environment Agency is “not fit for purpose”. Only then will the public have confidence that it is business as usual and we cannot look to this Government to do what is right and proper. Why the delay?

    • cjf
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Bring back Owen Paterson !

    • Kenneth
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      formula57, I agree that it is excellent research.

      However, this is the kind of research the BBC should be doing. A kind of “how do we spend our money” type feature.

      Instead we get the BBC’s opinions and those of its selected mates.

  15. Graham Wood
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Can anyone express a sound reason why the whole of our membership fee to the EU of £14.3 billion should not be redirected back to British taxpayers to assist the many thousands of our citizens made homeless by flooding, and helping to restore broken infrastructure affected by the EU ‘s non dredging policy ?

  16. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Do the Dutch have to suffer the EWFD? Interference there I would think would be calamity, the low countries.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      @Ex-expat Colin; “Do the Dutch have to suffer the EWFD?”

      I suspect that the Dutch have taken a far kinder view of such EU policy, not (most likely) first misinterpreted it, then gold plated the misinterpretation only to hold that gold plated misinterpretation against anything EU when our government or their Agency messes up. As you imply, such a directive would never create a binding policy that ends in flooding of towns and villages, for the very reasons you suggest!

  17. alan jutson
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info John.

    Looks like my comment of yesterday about the EA being an expensive Quango and talking shop was right.

    It would seem that talk on many social media sites are blaming cuts for the floods.

    Can I suggest your Party PR experts (another expensive talking shop it would seem) actually do their job and put out the facts for all to see for once.

    Lack of real communication by your Government again, unless of course the plan is to blame global warming so as to increase taxes and scam the public once more.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      The prefer the unpresidented rainfall levels, in foreseeable act of God defence. Yet they absurdly still maintain they can predict the climate in 100 years time and even ensure it is less than 1.5 c higher by building pointless windmills.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        That way they can absolve themselves of any blame – unforeseeable mate not my fault.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        lifelogic

        Perhaps someone should ask the Met office why they could not predict this rainfall/event a month ago, to allow people to prepare.

        One month too difficult to be accurate, but decades ahead no problem, who other than some of our politicians actually believes this tripe.

  18. Bert Young
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Any organisation whether public or private is only as good as the dynamism and drive of the Chief Exec . It is the responsibility of the Executive Board to establish its goals and priorities including short and medium term objectives . An organisation like the Enviroment Agency cannot function effectively with a part time CEO and the Board of the EA must not be looking over its shoulders in two directions . I would replace the CEO immediately and direct the Board only to the objectives created in this country .

    The dire conditions experienced recently illustrate why remedial action should not be put off . A sensible business-like head is required to set this ball in motion and give the reassurance to the public ; I doubt this can come from no.1o where only PRism exists . I , like most of my friends , am appalled by the wishy washy stuff we have witnessed from Cameron ; I want him out as quickly as I wish us out of the EU .

    • Mark
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      A new CEO (Sir James Bevan KCMG) started on 30th November. I think we should give him a little time to make an impact. His first board meeting is 2nd February: meetings appear to be open to the public, so perhaps someone will go along and report whether he seems to be changing the tone.

  19. Peter Davies
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    What you said there is damming. We hear all over the media about ea “cuts” with the reality being different.

    Good case for going back to the old ways of river management if ever I heard one

  20. Vanessa
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    And all we need to do to look after our rivers is to dredge them and keep them open and free of rubbish and pebbles washed down by rain ! If only the EU would let us do this. But because of Agenda 21 (I think) rivers have to be left alone for the wildlife to thrive, so we are not allowed to touch them. And if we do dredge them the earth and pebbles dredged out is classified as “toxic waste” or some such nonsense and has to be disposed of “responsibly” so we cannot use it to build up the banks ! I ask you – what a mess!

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Dear Vanessa–I believe, though wouldn’t want my life to depend on it, that it is classed as “hazardous” waste. Can’t begin to help you as to why, though, because you’d think it perfect for the job

      • Monty
        Posted December 31, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        Well now that “hazardous” waste is swilling around all over the landscape, and in people’s living rooms and shops and offices and schools. I’m still trying to fathom out how that is more acceptable to the greenshirts than allowing the stuff to be used for embanking.
        The EA has become toxic, it needs to be radically pruned and re-targetted.

  21. Kenneth
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The government needs to do what most business do and carry out regular pruning.

    The tendency towards empire-building coupled with ever longer and entwined red tape leads to busy-doing-nothing departments.

    Like so many other government agencies the Environment Agency needs to have the dead wood removed.

  22. Atlas
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    ” Too many chiefs, not enough indians” was a phrase used in the 1980s to describe this. It seems that not a lot has changed over the years – apart from the ‘Agencification’ dodge developed to avoid Ministers being directly responsible for the cock-ups they create behind the scenes.

  23. turbo terrier
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Mark B

    “It is high time that those whose responsibility it is fall on their sword, and not a penny in compensation should be made. We need to stop rewarding failure. Private companies may do it, but government does not.”

    Excellent absolutely correct. The Prime Minister should be calling all David Rook and his “executives and senior managers” into Downing Street on Monday morning requesting and receiving their resignations with immediate effect.

    Just to give him a full day, in the afternoon he should be receiving the Senior Executives and Managers at the DECC who have done nothing in real terms to reduce CO2 and driven millions into fuel debt and poverty with their policies.

    In the real world when you c**k up big time you are down the road. These departments have squandered billions of pounds of taxpayers money for little or no effect. A Day of the Long Knives just might start to focus peoples mind on what the expectations of their masters are. The perception I am sure in the flooded areas as well as the rest of the country is that these people are guilty of GROSS MISCONDUCT in the way they have acted and been paid vast sums of taxpayers money for doing three fifths of Naff all.

    With all the public services, pay and rewards must relate to success and achievement. The introduction of one year contracts just might bring about more focus on the job in hand. The millions of self employed in this island live in the real world 24/7 and stand or fall on their performance. The same must be applied within all government departments.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t know enough to say how far a resumption of dredging and removal of debris from rivers would go in solving these problems. I suspect that there may be the need for some serious civil engineering to provide increased upland storage capacity and also spillways to divert surplus water around towns and villages, which could possibly be combined with hydroelectric generation.

    I don’t know; but how much better it would be if we could trust that expert studies for effective flood prevention commissioned by our government would not be contaminated by the influence of the EU in one way or another. I wonder how the Victorians would have got on with their infrastructure projects if they had been constrained to constantly look over their shoulder to see whether or not foreigners liked the proposals.

    After all, nothing we do in Great Britain with regard to the management of our waterways can possibly affect other countries; it is not as if there are any possible cross-border factors to be taken into account, as there would be for example with the management of the Rhine which runs through six countries.

    So one has to ask why at some point some UK government agreed to the EU poking its nose in, and MPs voted for that to happen when they approved the relevant treaty.

    What is the matter with these people, that they offer themselves for election pretending that they want to govern the country when in reality most of them are perfectly happy to hand over swathes of government to foreigners through the EU?

    There is really only one solution to bring our government back under our control, and that is to leave the EU so that in future our politicians would no longer be able to the alienate the power of our national institutions, power which we have lent them.

    If we don’t get out of the EU system then sure as eggs is eggs we will end up in the euro and subject to all the federalising measures which Osborne is urging upon the present eurozone countries, and we will end up with no national army and no national foreign policy, merely a subject of the European federation which has always been and still is the end destination of the EEC/EC/EU project.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Dear Denis–What you call “spillovers” would certainly be a step in the right direction but the term does not convey the scale needed (a “spill” usually not being large or relentless). With hindsight of the TV recently, an upstream relief channel the size of the Manchester Ship Canal would be needed and (major “rethink” apart) the problem is that the inundations are not supposed to be anything like as serious or frequent as they seem to be becoming. If the channel remained dry for the much touted 100 years, people would forget what it was for. Mind you we had the complete hang of building canals a couple of hundred years ago and then with just picks, shovels and wooden wheelbarrows. The relief channel could, but not necessarily, go all the way to the sea and on any basis would shift a lot of water. Maybe as a canal and not a river (ie with wildlife) it would be easier to give two fingers to the wretched EU (legalities or No).

  25. Ken Moore
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It was interesting reading reviews of workers at the EA. This one stood out.

    How many of the 10,600 employees actually do something useful?. The organisation seems to exist primarily for the purpose of serving the needs of it’s own senior employees.

    “The bureaucracy at the Environment Agency is paralysing. It means that the pace of progress is glacially slow, and this slow pace means that staff are essentially facilitated in doing very little actual work, which compounds the problem.
    There are a huge number of process-driven activities which mean that in reality teams, particularly in head office, spend very little time discussing or problem-solving the issues they’re actually seeking to resolve.
    I spent 4 years at the EA and I went 2 whole years without having a single team meeting that involved a discussion that directly concerned the problem we were supposed to be addressing. Rather, my team continually discussed how to advance the bureaucratic processes surrounding its management.
    There are opportunities to progress at the EA, but they require an employee to avoid any attachment to a given area of expertise and to essentially become a mercenary.

    If you hope to work in the EA in your chosen field of expertise and progress up the hierarchy at a reasonable pace, forget it! The means of interviewing for and attaining new positions involves a bureaucratised system of assessment that relates only obliquely to your achievements and expertise. Succeeding at the interview stage within the EA is a skill in itself that has very little to do with how good you are in your current position, how much experience you have, or how good you might be at the one you’re applying for.

    Neither good nor bad performance is recognised here.
    Having worked in both the private sector and in public service, I would not consider employing an EA employee who had been there for more than 5 years”.

    Why isn’t parliament doing it’s job and effectively scrutinising the organisation of the EA to ensure it is focussed on flood prevention and not feathering it’s own nest ?

  26. turbo terrier
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The EU cannot be used as an excuse because within their 2000 Water Directive on river management and dredging it states that the people and properties should come first. Why then has there been very little dredging in the most at risk areas?

    Still the more these disasters happen the more people will get totally p****ed of with these departments and their excuses and vote for leaving the EU and revert back to the days when we were accountable and responsible for our own destiny.

    Those at fault must not be allowed to hide behind all this greencrap as an excuse for gross incompetence.

    The Prime Minister has got to take full responsibility of the situation and make an example of all those who have not come up to the mark. If he is unable to do this he must step down as ultimately the buck stops with him.

  27. Remington Norman
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    This is YOUR government, for heaven’s sake. How much more wastage, mismanagement, incompetence, 500 yard taxi rides, are the public required to accept before something radical is done to improve performance and eliminate the spendthrifts?

  28. Jerry
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    The Environment Agency is a disgrace and always has been, its greatly centralised, autocratic, self-serving nature has never been an improvement on the localism, loyalism and knowledge of that which went before – now remind me which government set the EA up…

    • Ted Mombiot
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      It began on April 1st 1996.
      It grew during the next 13 years under Labour from 1997 exponentially.
      What on earth is your point?

      • Jerry
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        @Ted Mombiot; I asked when it was created (July 1995), not when it took over those duties from the LA and police etc, the fact that it has grown like topsy ever since is just proof of the poorly drafted Act that allowed such an autocratic Agency to exist at tax payers expense in the first place!

        Trying to criticise a later government for mistakes made by the previous one…well if you want it that Ted then lets start criticising the 2010-15 LD/Tory coalition for the lopsided Blair era devolution that n only has allowed the SNP a majority in their own parliament but become the official third party of opposition in the UK even though they hold no seats outside of Scotland…!

        • Edward2
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          It was created in April 2996
          You seem to be struggling Jerry.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

            1996 I meant to type!

          • Jerry
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:04 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Oh for goodness sake… Try actually checking the facts, stop trying to pick arguments, all you do is show yourself up! Heck even the URL to the official online copy of the act has the year within it as part of the documents name.

            http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/25/pdfs/ukpga_19950025_en.pdf

            From the face page of the Act;

            Environment Act 1995
            1995 CHAPTER 25

            An Act to provide for the establishment of a body corporate to be known as the Environment Agency and a body corporate to be known as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency; to provide for the transfer of functions, property, rights and liabilities to those bodies and for the conferring of other functions on them; to make provision with respect to contaminated land and abandoned mines; to make further provision in relation to National Parks; to make further provision for the control of pollution, the conservation of natural resources and the conservation or enhancement of the environment; to make provision for imposing obligations on certain persons in respect of certain products or materials; to make provision in relation to fisheries; to make provision for certain enactments to bind the Crown; to make provision with respect to the application of certain enactments in relation to the Isles of Scilly; and for connected purposes.

            [19th July 1995]

            Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

            It became law April 1st 1996
            Google it Jerry
            And stop shouting.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

            I’m not sure what difference it makes anyway.
            Apart from showing how pedantic you are Jerry

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            I’ve worked out why you are confused and even more annoyed than usual Jerry
            The Environment Agency started April 1st 1996
            Which is what I was talking about
            I’ve checked on Google
            Perhaps you should too.
            It’s on the EA’s website.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            @Edward; You are the one (deeply) confused! The Agency might well have come into physical existence in, or more likely assumed responsibility, in 1996, but that’s not when it was created by Parliament.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 30, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          Off on an alternative argument Jerry avoiding the actual question.
          Waffling now about devolution.
          You indeed have been on a media training course but not a very good one.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:06 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; What ever, but once again all you prove is that you can neither debate an issue nor follow a debate.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Jerry
            Another charming post from you.
            But I maintain you always change the subject or move off onto a new argument topic whenever you cannot answer the original one.
            Thus my point about your media training is correct.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; You really do love putting all those filthy pots and pans on display, heck you can’t even get the correct year (ignoring dafty tipos!). What ever…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            April 1st 1996 is the date on the EA website when they say they started.
            But of course Jerry they might be wrong and you may be right….

          • Jerry
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; 1995 is the date on the Act (that created the said Agency by way of statute law), and as the failings found at the EA have been there from the very beginning it rather suggests that the way it was set up -even if it needed to be set up at all- in the first place is the real problem, which was the point I was attempting to make until you and others decided to pick an argument simply because you didn’t like my criticisms.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            The EA started in Aptil 1996
            Is spent 13 of its first 14 years under a Labour Govt
            Who could have altered or changed anything about the EA they wanted to
            But they did not.

    • Jerry
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      @Jerry; Further to my other comment. Being highly critical of an Agency that YOUR party/government set up in the mid 1990s, might not be one of your best battle, especially when in this case many Tory voters current have homes under flood water in some parts of the country. I realise that by July 1995, John, you had left government and had many fundamental disagreements regarding government policy with your party (leadership), but much of the policy work that went into the Environment Act 1995 must have been carried out whilst you were still a member of the Cabinet, what is more as the Act affected Wales your governmental office would (or should) have been closely involved or at least kept informed with a two-way document flow as to how the new Environment Agency would work.

      Your criticisms of the Environment Agency are spot-on but sometimes it might be better to fight from within the trenches and by not by sticking ones head over the balustrades, incoming criticisms as angry voters lash-out have no loyalties… Choose your publicly fought battlers and criticisms with care!

      • Ted Mombiot
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        I’ve rarely ever read such a illogical comment on this site.
        Are you actually saying we should not comment on a topic in 2015 because the quango was originally set up back in 1996.
        If the EA is not performing well today it should be criticised and hopefully improve.
        Under 13 years of Labour it grew from nothing to a mega quango employing thousands.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 1, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          Ted Mombiot; “I’ve rarely ever read such a illogical comment on this site.”

          Funny, I could say the same about your illogical comments, after all you don’t even seem to know when the Environment Act was passed and thus the effective date when the Agency was created, which will have be different to when responsibilities were handed over and it took over the day-to-day operations and work.

          “If the EA is not performing well today it should be criticised and hopefully improve.”

          The point is that is has never worked property, and now we get people who were in government at the time that the Environment Bill was being written and/or going through its parliamentary stages trying to suggest that it is some how all the fault of the autocratic Agency the government they were a part of created.

          Under 13 years of Labour it grew from nothing to a mega quango employing thousands.

          It could never have done that had it not been created, nor did the EA do anything in those 13 years that it would not have done anyway having been set up as an all encompassing autocratic Agency/Quango. Cause and effect, without the cause there will never be the effect.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

            I’ve told you Jerry more thsn once April 1st 1996
            The rest of your post is pedantic nonsense and I’ve read it several times and still it makes no sense.
            Are you a politician?

          • Jerry
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; You are simply WRONG.

            I have posted a URL to the on-line version of the Act and cited its title page. For goodness sake stop arguing about FACTS you (and others) have obviously not bothered to check, the Environment Act was passed in 1995.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            You are confusing the enabling act with when the agency began.
            It’s on their website
            Do have a look Jerry
            And stop shouting.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; OK Edward so on what date did the EA take over the actual responsibilities and duties from the local authorities, the police etc?…

          • Edward2
            Posted January 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            Well it didn’t start as a functioning or operating entity ie staff buildings website inspectorate etc until April 1996
            As it says so on their own website!
            So what do you think?

            When does a child begin, conception or birth?
            Come on Jerry keep at it.

  29. Nig L
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    ‘Ministers should ask again about how the staff are deployed and the policy towards maintaining rivers and anti flood structures’

    Hells teeth, why should they ask again? Why aren’t they all over this problem like a rash, asking daily? Where is the operational plan with specific measurable objectives? Surely the policy should be to eliminate/reduce flooding in areas at risk? it is actions that are needed.

    Actually, of course, there is and reading it, whilst no doubt, there are inefficiencies in how they spend the money, it would seem clear that your Government must bear much of the responsibility.

    Have a look at the Board meeting minutes of October 2015, some discussions about individual schemes, plenty of course on Diversity and Health and Safety plus stressing the importance of protecting crayfish in one scheme but nothing on a risk assessment for the coming winter, where are we now against emergency plans etc. Indeed their Corporate Business Score Card smugly is set at Green, because they had protected 3500 houses this year to date, this years target will be achieved towards March 2016 but that the majority , ie achieving the target of 600, 000 will be done 2018/20 and 2021/22.

    There is your answer Mr Redwood, they are on target, presumably agreed with your Minister and presumably in line with your Government’s funding.

    So as it would appear to be your Government’s decision not to help these people until 3/4 years time, I suspect at the behest of the Treasury.

    If it was so important to you Mr Redwood, why weren’t you banging at Liz Truss’s and Osborne’s door to get these people protected now?

  30. bigneil
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry about any cost – Ozzy and Dave just want to import millions more people
    ( over what they are already letting in ) and everything will be wonderful. They will all need houses, which will cover yet more land, which means more roads which will cover more land. There will be more schools, shops and factories, which will cover more land – etc etc forcing any rain into less and less space. Keep building endless numbers of houses – and there won’t be any “environment” left to be managed.
    Of course, people could have a word with “The Almighty” about stopping the bad weather, but would “He” be able to get any changes past the EU?

  31. ian wragg
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Why does our EA need 10 times the number Germany has which absorbs half the budget.
    Even the budget you mention is a fraction of what you waste on overseas aid. Is the government going to apply for EU aid from the slush fund available of which we are a major contributor.
    Who in government if anyone is in control of this monster quango which is working diametrically opposite to what it should be doing.
    Cameron and Osborne should be made to resign over the continued failings of this government.

  32. Margaret
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    You are quite right of course in that it is not the amount of money, but how you spend it that is the important factor. In some areas it is called style, in safety issues it is called skill and priority.

  33. ChrisS
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The problem with having the Environment Agency as the main body to control flooding, is that it has two objectives : protecting the environment and controlling the flooding. As we saw in Somerset, these two are often in conflict with each other.

    We do have to have some regard to all the Green Crap but not at the expense of the thousands of people whose life has been made a misery by multiple flooding events.

    If these really are once-in-a-hundred-year events, it is surely better to deliberately flood farmland and pay a few farmers for lost crops than it is to see whole towns inundated and the disruption that this causes to thousands of families and businesses ?

    • Jerry
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      @ChrisS; The problem is that these floods have never ever been once in a 100 year event, hence why before the post war building booms (things got even worse by the 1980s) it was common to see known flood plains barren – one only needs to study pre WW2 aerial photos to understand this.

      Preventing the flooding of both town (urbanisations) and country (farm land -it’s not just the damage to the lost of crop/live-stock, but the flooded land looses nutrients etc. too) is part of the EAs’s “environment” brief surely as nature is often as adversely affected and damaged by flooding too.

  34. Mark
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The EA is notorious for its inefficiency, some of which was catalogued on the insidetheenvironmentagency blog (now no longer updated and only available from the wayback machine). Looking at the board appointments that have been made, the new CEO (started on 30th November) spent a career as a diplomat, getting the nod for showing Amber Rudd around a water treatment plant in India where he was High Commissioner. Other board members have strong Green credentials, including Emma Howard Boyd (Deputy Chair), and former “Green Tory” MP Peter Ainsworth.

    Their latest board minutes have a self-congratulatory tone:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/467017/Agenda_and_papers_for_15_October_2015_board_meeting.pdf

    The new appointments due to be made to the board seem unlikely to shake things up, as I highlighted here a couple of days ago.

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2015/12/28/should-the-environment-agency-dredge-rivers/#comment-794990

    • stred
      Posted December 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Tea time so read Mark’s link to the EA report, wondering if they had some reason for spending nearly twice as much on pay as they had on capital works. Section OB/1015-92 gives an idea of how they spend the money. There are two directors in charge of Corporate Assets Safety Health Environment and Wellbeing or CASHEW. Reading on it certainly seems related to nuts.They have another one for Health Safety Wellbeing and Commitment and produce Outputs from a Well Big Conversation, and the execs have requested a re-fresh of this.

      They list the incidents this year and have produced graphs. One inspector was at an @inert waste transfer station’ when he climbed of an ‘established waste pile’ and fell off it, hurting his ankle and had a day off. Another digger driver dug through some overhead cables and a crane driver damaged a B and Q when driving it into their car park. Just 3 accidents. As part of their Well Big Conversation had failed, they are looking for way to improve it. -Perhaps a notice in the drivers window saying ‘I must not forget I am driving a crane’.

      Householders up north who are feeling a lack of wellbeing may like to read the page from Sir Philip Dilley, who had interrupt his Carribean holiday to look at the floods. He says the above is’ at the heart of everything we do’. They also say they are planning a change in language such as ‘looking out for each other’. Perhaps looking after?

  35. Iain gill
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    With the earth’s helium supply expected to be gone by 2030 with it all being released into the atmosphere why are world governments allowing it to be wasted on party balloons?

  36. Jon
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    This is a UK wide problem and to be fair I was reassured a bit when I saw a map of where they have invested in flood defences, it was spread across the UK.

    Somerset, Cumbria, Scotland and the Peak District aside we also saw recently that the Medway area in Kent is subject to flooding of houses. An area favoured for new builds.

    I noticed in Bedford and the West side of East Anglia which is seeing huge house building is subject to floods. It hasn’t because it has not had a rain “weather event” but its only a matter of time before it does.

    Now we come to this Flood Re that we are all to contribute to. I like the concept of cross subsidy, up to a point though. Not that keen where all the major new builds for the increase in population are in flat flood risk areas.

    In a flat area where there is a lot of clay I cannot see what flood defences will counter a rain filled “weather event” yet that is where the new houses are being built to handle the population growth.

    Whilst people may say I don’t live there so who cares, people will have to pay the flooding costs.

  37. A different Simon
    Posted December 30, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    The fifth columnist movement within the UK is pervasive and powerful and must cost a lot of money to run .

    That money has to come from somewhere and the irony is that it comes from all of us through taxes and govt spending .

    The quango system seems to be a conduit for funneling public money to leftist subversive causes .

    Follow the money and I bet very little of it sticks where the public thinks it should .

  38. lojolondon
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    John, Labour set up this whole EA thing, where the agency is more concerned with the lifestyle of the flat toad than with doing their job, maintaining the waterways. Unfortunately, now it is the end of 2015 and the Conservatives have been in power for 5 years now, so the buck rests firmly with your boss, I am afraid. This fake wringing of the hands and blaming the ‘climate’ totally does not wash, except for with the Craven BBC, who are too happy to record and report that it is our own fault for the rain. Time to get someone into the top position there who will just roll his sleeves up and fix the problem.

  39. TonyJ
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    In answer to the question …

    … poorly.

    3/10 – could do better.

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 3, 2016 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    Often the real reason for calls for increased public expenditure is the maintenance and possible increase of employment levels. You are at your best when you point this out.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page