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Times article on Environment Agency inspections

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Environment Agency, Uncategorized, water

Environment Agency officer in a high-vis jacket.

An article published in The Times today covering Environment Agency inspections has said checks on water companies and individuals are drawing too much water from English rivers and aquifers have fallen over the last four years. At the same time, the paper highlights there has been an increase in funding for water resource staff from about £3.3 million in 2020-21 to around £4.6 million in 2022-23.

The piece including commentary suggesting that more should be done to make sure the Environment Agency is carrying out compliance checks.

However, it is important to note that inspections are carried out on a risk-based approach and vary year-to-year, depending on weather conditions and changing circumstances. They are also funded by charges on water companies and individuals and not through government grant in aid.

Moreover, the figures quoted for increasing funding for water resources officers are for teams who deal with a range of water resource management issues, including monitoring, drought management, and assessing the feasibility of new water resource options – not just compliance.

In response, an Environment Agency spokesperson said:

This is misleading - inspections are not our only way of assessing that those who take water from the environment are complying with their licences – we also use satellite data, irrigation patrols and have a network of river gauging, groundwater level and ecological monitoring systems. This allows us to target activity to where and when the risks are highest and the environment is most vulnerable.

More widely, we are strengthening the way we regulate to drive better performance from the water industry, with additional specialist officers and new data tools to provide better intelligence.

A Defra spokesperson said:

We are clear that water companies must manage their abstraction activities sustainably and our initiatives have resulted in 131 million litres less water a day being removed from the environment over the last decade.

Our Plan for Water is delivering more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement to protect our water environment and ensure water companies are held to account.

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  1. Comment by Ashley Paul Smith posted on

    Judging by the past disproved claims of monitoring and checking and 's experience of examining and exposing the detail, this blog is not worth the digital footprint it is written on - Show us some solid proof, not dubious rebuttals.
    An independent review into the most captured of the regulators - the Environment Agency, is long overdue and no progress will be made as long as this culture of denial and cover-up prevails. New leadership - same failure.

  2. Comment by Peter Hunt posted on

    Just more words.
    Round our way, some farmers take more than half the water out of the little Garren and Gamber brooks in south Herefordshire. (from E A data made under a freedom of information request) Some farmers are even, allegedly, extracting water at night (info' from other farmers) so as not to be seen doing it illegally. The E A monitors the water flow here and can see something is wrong. The E A no longer monitors water quality here. They ignored my complaints of sky-high P levels, yet they admitted it was failing 5 years ago and did nothing about it. Meantime it just gets worse.

  3. Comment by John W. Baxter posted on

    13 million litres a day over ten years as we know is no more than 1300 cubic metres or 1300 tonnes of water per day……..a drop in the ocean as the E A knows.
    I find it a sad reflection of our environmental protection systems that they have failed for many years to enhance our environment and instead allowed it to be exploited under their watchful eye , earring in mind that jobs in water companies could be on offer after careers in EA…….sad , sad reading.