Environment Agency tells employees to ignore pollution complaints, says ex-employee | Environment Agency

England’s rivers will continue to deteriorate unless Environment Agency Stop “shut up” public calls about pollution, according to a former employee who worked at the agency for three decades.

Officers are required Ignore calls of the public and was asked not to consider potential accidents if the caller believed they were of lesser impact, which means they fall into what is called Class 3 or 4. This has left staff “frustrated” says Helen Nightingale, a watershed planner in North West Lancashire. who left the environment agency in April.

Once the river is damaged, it becomes difficult for a major accident to occur on it. “You can only kill a lot of fish. Once you actually kill them, the chances of a major accident are dramatically reduced,” said Nightingale, who appeared on Britain’s ‘Water Scandal’ Monday night. “.

Between 2010 and 2021, the agency’s annual budget for law enforcement was reduced from £11.6m to £7m. Without staff going out and looking at these incidents, the environment agency is relying on the public to accurately report the impact. “You wouldn’t ask the public to rate you if you were in a car accident. She said the general public are not experts.

Officers will continue to go and look at rare Class 1 and 2 incidents—like currently blue-green algae Lake Windermere Rugs – Which are considered to have a significant or significant impact on the environment. Data from the National Accident Recording System show that in 2021, 116,000 potential accidents were reported, and only 8000 they attended.

“If you call and report Category 3 and someone in the call center says we won’t attend this, you won’t keep calling because you feel like you are wasting your time. So we get less and less evidence of what’s going on in rivers,” said Nightingale. An example of a Category 3 could To be “a 2-km-long oil or sewage spill in a river”.

In addition to urging the public to report, the Environment Agency relies on water companies to discipline itself. “They don’t report enough, they rate it too low, they try to sort it out before anyone gets there, and as a private company they do,” she said. Bonuses paid to managers of water companies increased by 20% Last year the average CEO was given a one-time payment of £100,000 in addition to their salary.

When Nightingale got her start 31 years ago, she was out of the office almost all the time. Now environmental officials are out of the office for a maximum of one day a week, with “sneaks” more often.

“It’s frustrating, it’s totally frustrating… I can do more environmental good in my backyard than I could when I was finally at work,” said Nightingale, who believes Rivers were “just crossed out” because employees were just told to look. In accidents as soon as they become serious or very dangerous.

She says there are too many people leaving, and the agency can’t recruit enough people to fill the gaps, with many feeling really frustrated. “It’s sad that people aren’t allowed to do the job… you get criticism and you can’t stand up for yourself and say ‘that’s why it happened’, you just have to take it seriously.”

Pollution in the River Tiffy, Wales.
Pollution in the River Tiffy, Wales. Photography: Alex Ramsey/Almy

Nightingale’s comments come ahead of a Channel 4 investigation that revealed the extent to which untreated sewage was being pumped into waterways. The investigation shows that there are more than 870 sewage discharge pipes across the UK that do not have a permit, meaning that water companies may use them to dispose of untreated sewage illegally.

The investigation also found that faecal pollution at Ryde Beach on the Isle of Wight, classified as having “excellent” water quality, was 40 times higher than normal. Follow final analysis which found that sewage monitoring devices in popular coastal destinations are not working or not being installed.

Kristin Colvin, from rivers The trust, said: “Environment officers on the front lines of pollution, nature and climate crises around the world – they are the guardians of our future. It is heartbreaking to hear how their work is being undermined and how they struggle to stay motivated. We definitely need more shoes on the ground, shoes that are empowered to get the job done and enforce the law.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency receives between 70,000 and 100,000 incident reports annually, ranging from pollution to coastal erosion and flooding. We will always respond to serious incidents.

“Like every public organisation, given limited resources, we will always focus our efforts on the biggest threats to the environment. We assess and record every incident and will always be present if there is a significant risk to people or the environment. All information we receive is used to shape organizational interventions where it is most needed. to her “.

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