Environment Agency boosted spending by £41m last year – the “cuts”


In 2012-13 the EA spent £1207.4m compared to £1166.6m the year  before. It ended the year with £95.8m cash in the bank. We are told the “cuts” stopped it doing a good job on flooding. How big an increase in spending would it take to qualify as no cut?


  1. Brian Tomkinson
    February 10, 2014

    Did you mean to write £1707.4m spent in 2012/13?

  2. Andrew
    February 10, 2014

    What is the situation, with regard to treasury -EA spending rules, which is the new excuse for not dredging last year. Osborne’s department said no apparently.

    Get this. The Met office now predicts that the channel will rise at twice the rate of anywhere else on the planet http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/met-office-forecasting-skill-on-show/

    1. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2014

      Indeed complete nonsense. The Met office, together with the BBC has been one of the main drivers of the absurd AGM scare agenda/religion and catastrophic sea level rise agenda. They are now in their death throws on this silly agenda and getting desperate.

      Dame Slingo’s recent silly & vague announcements were not the sort of things responsible scientists should be saying.

      Adapt when and if we have to, spend money on what we know works, wasting billions now on quack expensive & intermittent energy (and mainly in the UK/EU only) in the hope of reducing sea levels or rainfall in 30 years is just plain bonkers.

      Anyway was it not a new ice age & summer droughts they were on about until recently.
      It rains sometimes more heavily than in other years, and sometime in some areas more than other areas. The met office should know that, grow up and get over it. Twas always thus and is rather likely to stay thus.

      When they get the weather predictions reliable for one month hence then perhaps let them move on to say two months. Until then they should just shut up and stick to their waffle and hand waving.

      1. Hope
        February 10, 2014

        Overseas aid at £14 billion, EU at £55million each day and the Tory led government still adheres to every directive from the EU including the EU competence on environment which the EA has followed and has a major contribution to the mess we are witnessing in our country.

    2. Denis Cooper
      February 11, 2014

      It needs to be established whether or not the Environment Agency pressed for more money to be made available specifically for dredging, and if so whether or not that request was refused by the Treasury, and if so on what grounds.

      One might think it shouldn’t be difficult to settle this argument one way or the other quite quickly by both sides producing the relevant documentation, but I find that yesterday afternoon even the Guardian was admitting:


      “There is still a lack of clarity about exactly why the Somerset Levels were not given the money for dredging in recent years, despite warnings from farmers in the area that failure to keep this up posed a flood risk.”

      Reply The Agency has a huge budget and considerable flexibility over how it spends it. The Treasury does nto make detailed decisions – the Agency has delegated powers.

      1. Hooe
        February 11, 2014

        When will they compensate the farmers and home owners for the flood it helped to create?

        1. A different Simon
          February 13, 2014

          The inhabitants of Chertsey and the rest of Spelthorne were deliberately sacrificed to save the inhabitants of Kingston Upon-Thames down to the Thames Barrier much worse flooding .

          Why will the Government not admit this as it is blindingly obvious ?

          In the UK only London counts , not people in England , Scotland or Wales .

          It just wouldn’t do to inconvenience all those rich foreigners and fugitives from justice who have made London their country . Many of them could sure do with the hoses turned on them .

          It’s starting to look like the Govt will have to get into the home-insurance business or at least levy a charge on those between Spelthorne and the Thames Barrier to offset the premiums of those upstream who will be flooded every time London is in danger .

          The Somerset Levels is a different situation completely .

      2. Denis Cooper
        February 11, 2014

        Well, that Guardian article ends with:

        “Treasury sources said there were limits on what could be spent according to how much benefit it would provide. However, they said there were no specific caps on what could be spent on flood defences or more specifically on dredging, and argued that flood protection scored highly in terms of benefits.”

        And at this point we are back to whether the Environment Agency adopted a policy of deliberately allowing more flooding, although of course not as much as has actually occurred, and whether their analyses of the economic benefits and costs were conditioned by EU laws and policies.

  3. Lifelogic
    February 10, 2014

    Indeed they perhaps mean cut is doing anything useful.

    They still all those head office wages, benefits and pensions to cover and these head office people have long life expectancies. Cash in the bank £96M will be needed to pay of all the staff they will need to fire.

  4. alan jutson
    February 10, 2014

    Time the government got its act together and was honest with regards to communication over Government spending.

    Problem is it wants to give the illusion that it is controlling spending, but in reality it is failing.

    Far too many people are simply jumping on th bandwagon of Government cuts as an excuse for poor performance.

  5. ian wragg
    February 10, 2014

    Once again blather about who is responsible for the debacle in Somerset. No mention of the EU influence as all politicians appear ready to take the blame rather than implicate Brussels.
    Well done the Swiss. Sticking up 2 fingers to the EU. The more they get bullied their harder will their position become.
    The EU will be telling them to lop off the top of the Alps as geese from France can’t migrate properly.
    Time to wind up this entire roadshow and get some real people with skills and knowledge
    involved. Not PPE Oxford idiots.

    1. Hope
      February 10, 2014

      Do not forget Iceland. They are doing very well and were spot on NOT take any help from the EU and to retain their sovereignty. Like The Swiss they could negotiate a tree agreement with China, the auK cannot do this. It has to act through the EU!

      1. uanime5
        February 10, 2014

        Hope you do realise that the UK did negotiate a trade agreement with China in 2013. Germany also negotiate a similar trade agreement.

        1. Denis Cooper
          February 11, 2014

          Hope you do realise that:


          “The Union itself is responsible for the trade policy of its member countries and the European Commission negotiates on their behalf. This means that no individual member government can contemplate a bilateral trade agreement with a non-EU partner. This division of responsibility is based on the EU Treaties.”

          Therefore whatever Cameron agreed with the Chinese government in 2013 was either within the limits of the existing EU-China trade agreements or he was acting in breach of the EU treaties.

          Also hope you do realise that he annoyed the EU Commission by calling for a new EU-China trade agreement:


          “British Prime Minister David Cameron promised China’s leaders on Monday he would advocate a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between Beijing and the European Union, riling the EU executive which rejected the move as premature.”

        2. Mark B
          February 11, 2014
  6. Al
    February 10, 2014

    Is it likely that the heads of the EA will be sacked?

  7. John
    February 10, 2014

    With a one billion pound pa budget, 11,000 employees & 7000 vehicles, resources is not the issue.
    What is lacking is the leadership to put people first, over hopeless EU directives, written by unelected bureaucrats.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2014

      What is needed is as usually is a leader with a working compass.

      1. bigneil
        February 11, 2014

        true -but DC’s compass is facing permanently towards Brussels, so he knows which way to put his prayer mat.

        Reply Not so – Brussels is unhappy with his stance on the Fiscal Treaty, open borders and the referendum

    2. lifelogic
      February 10, 2014

      7000 vehicles! Surely being part of the giant government green agenda they should be setting an example (unlike Prince Charles types) perhaps by cycling or now maybe canoeing everywhere!

      Are these 7000 vehicles used to harass the public, fine or licence them perhaps for touching their ditches, septic tanks or ponds I wonder. Or running their expensive phone lines, or managing their huge pensions obligations perhaps?

      1. uanime5
        February 10, 2014

        Well lifelogic you do need special vehicles to drive through flooded areas and area where there aren’t any roads.

        1. Mark B
          February 11, 2014

          Isn’t that environmentally unfriendly ?

  8. Chris
    February 10, 2014

    The EA had apparently a “creative” way of finding that dredging was not cost effective, as described by R North in his blog. Below is an excerpt from the blog. For precise details of how the financial manipulation was apparently carried out see full article:
    “…According to my source, when Barbara Young took over as chief executive of the Agency in 2000, she stopped the routine dredging of the main rivers, although the IDBs continued their dredging programmes. Thus, some dredging was carried out right up until the current floods.

    “What seems to have happened is that the deterioration was initially slow to manifest itself. But, once it set in, as the silt burden increases, flow is hampered slowing down the flow and increasing the silting, setting up a spiral of decline.

    “Why Young was so keen to see this happen is illustrated by a piece in the Guardian in 1 February 2008, devoted to the celebration of wetlands…..Young was by then seeking to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive, and the targets set under the EU’s Natura 2000 programme, as well as the requirements of the Floods Directive, which required the “restoration of floodplains”.

    ” In effect, allowing the Somerset Levels to flood was one of the quickest and cheapest (for the Environment Agency) ways of creating new “habitat” to satisfy EU demands….The flooding is the result of deliberate policy, mandated by EU law. These are “designer floods”, made to order.

    “To justify them in its own terms, though, the EA has undergone some elaborate financial manipulation to demonstrate that reverting to “nature” is cost effective. To do so, it artificially inflates the cost of flood prevention maintenance, while downplaying the costs incurred through flooding…..”

  9. Howard
    February 10, 2014

    Good to see John Redwood finally telling it how it is.

  10. Chris
    February 10, 2014

    Perhaps the EA could consider cutting down on its PR budget? FOI questions apparently ascertained that the Agency spent £2.4 million on PR, but refused to spend £1.7 on dredging the Parrett and Tone.
    “…The Government agency chose not to spend £1.7million on dredging stretches of the River Tone and the River Parrett before the recent flooding left much of the crisis-hit Somerset Levels underwater.
    However, bosses at the Environment Agency did spend at least £2.4million on PR activities….
    The figure, revealed in request under the Freedom of Information Act by The Sun, does not include the salaries of the agency’s PR staff…..There were repeated calls for dredging on the Somerset Levels made to government departments by farmers and others in the region at least six months ago. However, funding was declined….”

    1. Lifelogic
      February 10, 2014

      Still at least we now know that their staff know 100 times as much as we do even if they do so little of any use!

    2. cosmic
      February 11, 2014

      If they cut down on their PR budget, how would we know how well they are performing?

  11. Kenneth
    February 10, 2014

    How did we cope before the Environment Agency existed? What is the point of it?

    1. Bob
      February 10, 2014


      How did we cope before the Environment Agency existed?

      About the same, maybe better, no worse but definitely cheaper.

      I can see an easy cost saving to taxpayers of about £1.2 billion.

  12. Richard1
    February 10, 2014

    This is the topsy turvey world of public sector quangos. An increase in cash and real terms is described as a ‘cut’. Disasters are the result of ‘cuts’ or ‘climate change’ never of incompetence or miscalculation . The appointment of anyone other than a card-carrying leftist to a senior quango sinecure is unacceptable political interference. It does seem that Conservative ministers have been very remiss in not challenging these embedded unelected leftists before now. Unbelievably we also read that there are 27,000 charities, many of them highly political (left-leaning of course), which get > 75% of their funding direct from the state!

    Not only do we need cuts to bring state spending to a reasonable level, we need them in order to bring this network of unelected parallel government under control.

    In other related news, we read that The Blob plan strike action by teachers in resistance to Michael Gove’s introduction of performance related pay, his latest brave move to ensure that state schools do what we are all paying for them to do – provide the best possible education for children for the money they get.

    1. oldtimer
      February 10, 2014

      No doubt you are familiar with this report published by the Institute of Economic Affairs:

      The report summary states:
      “Political campaign groups, NGOs and charities receive billions of pounds from government in Britain and the EU. There is strong evidence of similar funding patterns in the USA and Australia. In earlier papers it was argued that state-funding of politically active organisations subverts the democratic process and squanders taxpayers’ money.”

      1. Chris
        February 10, 2014

        I think this is a highly significant point you make, oldtimer, about the funding of these groups and how it subverts democracy. Basically the EU is pouring very considerable sums into these green and environmental lobbying groups and charities, which in turn then have the power to influence legislation disproportionately towards the green agenda, something that the EU has wanted to pursue. Not a level playing field, and completely devoid of input from the general public – the ordinary person really does not seem to matter, and, as others have commented, ordinary people in the EU are really regarded as material/commodities to be moved/moulded/manipulated.

        1. Brian Catt
          February 18, 2014

          You forgot exploited.

          At its rotten heart the current system of government is legalised extortion of the mass of people for the benefit of the self appointed insider great and good and rich and bad who control things, fronted by the PR veneer of elected politicians du jour who are themselves selected by their unrepresentative parties with ideological and lobbyist enriching policies we don’t want, but are forced to choose between. By laws they made. Undemocracy.

          Dictators gain power that way. Its all about money and power, the environment is the current preferred excuse for extremist ideological legislation that actually makes things worse and even more avoidably expensive for the mass of people to profit the rich and their government fixers.

          The reason we have no leaders is the people who run things don’t need them, they need senior politicians who will sign and promote what they are told to, and play the extortion game for deferred reward.

      2. Bob
        February 10, 2014


        state-funding of politically active organisations subverts the democratic process and squanders taxpayers’ money.

        If people keep voting for the LibLabCon Party then they’ll think that people approve of the squandering.

        The answer is not to vote for parties that have a track record for wasting money on such nonsense.

        I can understand why layabouts, scroungers and public sector time servers would vote for them, but anyone who has to earn a living and pay tax should know better.

    2. Jennifer A
      February 10, 2014

      Richard 1 – It is unfair to relate teachers’ pay to performance when many schools suffer with unmanageable pupils, not least because our Government – a supposedly Tory one – makes single parenting more profitable than marriage.

      Estranged fathers still get an easy ride – the CSA does not charge them anything like the true costs required to raise a child. Walking out on a family (or being kicked out) is still too easy an option and teachers are expected to make good the damage.

      1. Richard1
        February 10, 2014

        Those are 2 separate issues.

        I see no reason at all why teachers should not benefit from and be subject to performance related pay and assessment as other professions are, even to some extent in the public sector.

        We need to attract and retain better quality teachers and we need a mechanism for weeding out the poor ones. One of the reasons for the shameful decline in educational standards in the UK is producer capture by unions opposed to measures such as performance related pay.

      2. ReefKnot
        February 10, 2014

        So, when a Father gets kicked out of his house it’s his fault is it ?

        1. bigneil
          February 11, 2014

          another section to be discussed is the foreign ones who come here just to get an English woman pregnant – then the “right to family life” kicks in – the man is here for life – without any contact to the offspring, financial or otherwise.-
          And the taxpayers cough up yet again.

    3. uanime5
      February 10, 2014

      Unbelievably we also read that there are 27,000 charities, many of them highly political (left-leaning of course), which get > 75% of their funding direct from the state!

      That’s not surprising as the Government’s workfare schemes involve paying charities to take on the unemployed as volunteers.

      In other related news, we read that The Blob plan strike action by teachers in resistance to Michael Gove’s introduction of performance related pay, his latest brave move to ensure that state schools do what we are all paying for them to do – provide the best possible education for children for the money they get.

      Gove’s idea is being opposed because it will be bad for schools. Since schools won’t be getting any extra money for this “performance related pay” the only way a teacher can earn more money is by cutting the salaries of all the other teachers. As a result it cannot be used at a school without alienating the teachers.

  13. Howard
    February 10, 2014

    Some reason John doesn’t want to highlight ( a named blog I have not had the chance to check out ed) blog despite acknowledging the EA’s failures that have been highlighting on the very same blog

    1. lojolondon
      February 10, 2014

      John, I think you should credit some of your sources and let people see the blog which gives a startling insight into the EA.

      Reply My only source has been the Environment Agency’s own Reports and accounts, plus media interviews and blog contributions here.

  14. Lifelogic
    February 10, 2014

    I see, in the Guardian, that Lord Smith claims his ‘Environment Agency staff know 100 times more than any politician about flood Environment.

    How would a Labour career politician & English graduate know this one wonders? But if they do then they and he are surely even more culpable for now doing the work needed.

    Most people I know understand perfectly well that the way to empty a bath tub is to let the plug out, clear the drains and reduce the rate of filling if possible. Perhaps his (100 times more knowledgeable) staff have many other solutions? I await with interest to hear the alternatives.

    Artificial sunlamps and fans to dry it out perhaps?

    1. uanime5
      February 10, 2014

      How would a Labour career politician & English graduate know this one wonders?

      He has scientists to advise him.

      Most people I know understand perfectly well that the way to empty a bath tub is to let the plug out, clear the drains and reduce the rate of filling if possible.

      So what exactly is your solution? The ground is saturated so it’s not possible to drain the water, dredging will have minimal effect because of the volumes of water involved, and there’s no way to prevent it raining here.

      1. Denis Cooper
        February 11, 2014

        Ah, “scientists”.

        Your unquestioning faith in “scientists” is quaint, it reminds me of the 1950’s when many more people were still prepared to accord “scientists” an almost god-like status.

        While at the same time many other people were still prepared to worship God and believe his Word, an attitude which you find ridiculous.

  15. forthurst
    February 10, 2014

    Unfortunately, there may have been no budget for draining the Somerset Levels, so although the EA may have had cash in the bank, it may not have been available to that purpose; after all, the EA needs reserves to handle emergencies, especially of threats to more the important wildlife.

    1. acorn
      February 10, 2014

      Defra tells the EA how much it can spend on flood risk management. You should read the following about actual spending because this government, has got more gold medal bullsh****rs, than a Russian ski resort.

      http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01-21-ASC-Policy-Note-flood-defence-spending-FINAL.pdf .

      “The higher total [spending] this period relies on sufficient external contributions being secured to supplement central Government’s own spending. Contributions levels have risen by over 1,000 per cent to £148 million this period following the introduction of Partnership Funding.

      Taken alone, central Government funding will be less than it was over the previous four years, even in cash terms. This is despite an extra £120 million being announced by the Chancellor in the 2012 Autumn Statement. Environment Agency flood defence grant-in-aid (FDGiA) remains £108 million below the amount provided by Defra over the previous four years.”

      Reply These figures show that total spend (EA and Defra) will be greater 2011-15 than 2007-11.

      1. forthurst
        February 10, 2014

        As far as the Somerset Levels are concerned, there was not a flood risk, but a flood certainty, entirely as a consequence of the decision by the EA to cease normal maintenance of the associated river system. Flood defence spending would be capital expenditure on new projects, not the maintenance of previously existing facilities.

        1. Chris
          February 10, 2014

          Apparently the flood plain of the Parrett, under the EA river basin management plan, had been designated Option 6 status, which basically meant that it would be allowed to flood, apparently in order that biodiversity would be encouraged. “…But now the story is out, with the EU’s Floods Directive taking centre stage, its presence so undeniable that even the Irish admit it’s there.

          What has been emerging, Booker says, is the background to how it was that the Environment Agency came to adopt a strategy deliberately designed to allow flooding not just in Somerset but elsewhere in the country, all in the name of putting the interests of “biodiversity”, “sustainability” and wildlife habitats above those of farming and people.

          These have included the EU’s Natura 2000 strategy along with a sheaf of directives on “habitats”, “birds”, “water”, and not least the Floods Directive of 2007, which specifically requires certain “floodplains” to be allowed to flood.

          “…In 2008, when the EA was run by Baroness Young, this was reflected in a policy document which classified areas at risk of flooding under six categories, ranging from “Policy Option 1”, where flood defences were a priority, down to “Policy Option 6” where, to promote “biodiversity”, the strategy should be to “increase the frequency of flooding”. The Somerset Levels were covered by Policy Option 6, aimed at turning them into “habitat museums”.

          Reply As someone who wants to get the EU’s lawmaking out of our lives, it would also seem to be the case here that the UK authorities did not have to make any particular place an area to flood rather than a place to defend. IT took wrong policy decisions in the Labour government and Environment Agency to do this. As Mr Pickles said, the Coalition should have forced a policy change over the Somerset levels sooner, which they are now doing.

          1. forthurst
            February 11, 2014

            “UK authorities did not have to make any particular place an area to flood rather than a place to defend. IT took wrong policy decisions in the Labour government and Environment Agency to do this.”

            What needs to be established is whether Young or Smith actually visited the Somerset Levels prior to their high handed decision, let alone discussed with farmers or householders their intention to submerge them in an aquatic wildlife sanctuary.

            Is there a policy of deliberate ambiguity with regard to the EU, whereby only through extensive research is it possible to establish whether it is a quango, the government, or Brussels which is responsible for the woeful decisions which impact all our lives?

      2. lojolondon
        February 10, 2014

        So, what you are saying is that the budget went up, even though the cost to the government went down. What all the people on this blog are saying is that if we gave someone £30m to dredge rivers and he only spent £20m on dredging rivers and the rest on something else, we would ask him why and what he spent it on. BUT when you give someone a Billion pounds to dredge rivers and he only spends £20m on that and wastes the rest, we do not care where he got it and what he did with it, we want to see his head roll!!

  16. Richard
    February 10, 2014

    I understand that the EA said in its March 2008 plan :

    “We have international obligations to maintain and enhance the habitats and species in the Somerset Levels and Moors, and it is within this context that all decisions have to be made”.

    So has the EA policy of flooding in the winter months so much of the Somerset Levels (known to the EA as “making space for water”) actually enhanced the habitats and species in this area ?

  17. Jennifer A
    February 10, 2014

    The country has been taken over by a political coup. Lord Smith is part of the Hive Mind which has taken over and so is given an easy ride by the lying BBC.

    Instead of dealing effectively with climate change like the Dutch we build useless windmills to the weather gods.

    Should we be surprised when Britain starts to look like what it is ?

    Things are only going to get worse so get used to it.

  18. Seth the pig farmer
    February 10, 2014

    So the EA has had a 3.5% increase in their budget, but either has not been allowed to spend it on putting in place sensible precautions regarding the Somerset levels or has chosen not to do so.

    Which one was it.

    What did they spend their money on?

    A nice simple breakdown of expenditure by project – not just high level activity – would be instructive.

  19. Sebastian Weetabix
    February 10, 2014

    I frequently sail a boat up and down the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire. As I understand it the Environment Agency has a statutory duty to keep the navigation open. This generally entails dredging and cutting back the vegetation on the banks so boats can pass. I have noticed over the past 10 years the river has not been dredged at all and in many places trees meet across the river preventing safe navigation. Speak to the local EA guys who used to do this work and you find they are pulling their hair out because the management – which is overwhelmingly green enthusiasts, not hydrologists or engineers – simply refuse to allow these activities to take place. We used to have a large population of Kingfishers along the river bank, typically a pair every few hundred yards. Thanks to the frequent flooding they have disappeared and never returned; even judged on their own objectives, the green maniacs who run the show have failed utterly. When I have complained about poor navigation a load of ‘managers’ turn up in luxurious 4x4s -no doubt claiming a generous mileage allowance – have a look around, and declare nothing should be done because it might affect voles or beetles.

    Why bother to have the organisation at all? Rather than pay 11,000+ staff to do nothing we could sack the lot of them. Only in quango-land could inactivity be so astonishingly expensive. These people have taken it onto themselves to destroy flood management in this country for the sake of diversity. Where is the voice of the people in this? Where is the democratic oversight?

  20. REPay
    February 10, 2014

    I am sure there are many hard working employees in the EA. However, the senior management should be held to account – not allowed to get away with claiming there were cuts, as I have heard this many times on the radio.

    I wish the left would worry more about financial sustainability. JR’s expose raises a lot of questions about how much fat there is in budgets…and how sustainable our unfunded public sector pensions are.

  21. uanime5
    February 10, 2014

    Was the amount of money DEFRA allowed the EA to spend on dredging and other flood defences increased or decreased in 2013? Just because their overall budget increased doesn’t mean the amount they spent on every area also increased.

  22. Richard Roney
    February 11, 2014

    Clearly Blair’s place man Lord Smith is either ignorant or (is misleading us ed). He should be summarily dismissed as should all the other Labour place men and women still holding on to sinecures at taxpayers’ expense. The quangocracy specifically set by Labour to provide these sinecures also need to be closed down and anything they do returned to the appropriate ministries. Then we will get back to a system of proper democratic control. I wonder though if we are able to close down the quangos? Is there a EU law against so doing?

  23. Anne Palmer
    February 15, 2014

    Apparently, it is EU Water now. There are other Directives but here is one for now. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, etc

    Thinking of using the Dredging kit? Farmers outraged as Agency prepared to auction dredging kit. http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Farmers-outraged-Agency-prepared-auction-dredging/story-20634505-detail/story.html

    “Then 20 years ago the Environment Agency decided to stop spending money on river maintenance and now this winter we’ve seen what has happened as a result.” http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Money-heart-crisis/story-20634392-detail/story.html

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