UK coun­try­side be­com­ing ‘law­less’ as Ea­cuts in­spec­tions by one-third

Iran Daily - - Cultural Heritage & Environment -

Wildlife and rivers are un­der threat after the UK En­vi­ron­ment Agency cut pol­lu­tion in­spec­tions by a third in just four years, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

Un­earthed, Green­peace’s in­ves­tiga­tive unit, dis­cov­ered that the agency has shed the equiv­a­lent of more than 2,500 full time jobs – 20 per­cent of its work­force – since 2013, and hugely scaled back en­vi­ron­men­tal checks on farms, in­dus­trial sites and water cour­ses, tele­ wrote.

Last year there were nearly 5,000 fewer an­nual site in­spec­tions by EA of­fi­cers than in 2014, the year when the agency first started record­ing data in its cur­rent form.

In ad­di­tion, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found there were close to 500 fewer ‘au­dits’ – in-depth in­spec­tions – per year, more than a hun­dred fewer checks of pol­lu­tion mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment, and 2,000 fewer re­views of data sub­mis­sions.

Yet re­cent tests by Green­peace in the River Ot­ter and River Tale in Devon found 29 dif­fer­ent pes­ti­cides – some of them banned – and four an­tibi­otics.

“Things are getting worse and com­pli­ance is getting worse, par­tic­u­larly in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor. We’re getting to a point of law­less­ness out there,” said Mark Lloyd, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, of The An­gling Trust.

“It’s the death of rivers by a thou­sands cuts. All these lit­tle trick­les of pol­lu­tion com­ing out of fields, slurry stores and farm­yards add up to a gi­ant flood of pol­lu­tion which is killing our rivers slowly but surely.

“The En­vi­ron­ment Agency used to be able to visit about one per­cent of farms in a year, which was bad enough, but the cuts have re­duced their re­sources by half, so the av­er­age farmer can ex­pect a visit ev­ery 200 years. Many farm­ers will never see the En­vi­ron­ment Agency on their farm.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions claim the agency’s re­duced ca­pac­ity means its staff can now only in­ves­ti­gate the most se­vere pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents and there has also been a 40 per­cent drop since 2013 in the an­nual num­ber of water pol­lu­tion sam­ples taken per year by the EA.

Ar­lin Rickard, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Rivers Trust, which helps the EA po­lice Eng­land’s wa­ter­ways, said: “If you ring the hot­line and re­port a pol­lu­tion in­ci­dent, the En­vi­ron­ment Agency are un­likely to come and visit un­less there are dead fish.

“Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are hav­ing to take things into their own hands.”

The fall in mon­i­tor­ing comes at a time when only 14 per­cent of the rivers in Eng­land are classed as hav­ing ‘good eco­log­i­cal sta­tus’, down from 27 per­cent in 2010, which is hav­ing a knock on ef­fect on wildlife.

Salmon, is now classed ‘at risk’ or ‘prob­a­bly at risk’ in 40 of the 42 prin­ci­pal salmon rivers in the coun­try, though the EA notes that the strug­gles of salmon are global and partly a con­se­quence of cli­mate change.

The fall in in­spec­tions is mir­rored in the num­ber of recorded breaches, with nearly 5,000 fewer in­fringe­ments recorded than five years ago and the num­ber of pros­e­cu­tions drop­ping from 269 in 2013 to 150 in 2017 and just 33 in the first half of this year.

“This mas­sive de­cline in pros­e­cu­tions for en­vi­ron­men­tal crime is ex­tremely con­cern­ing,” said Matt Shard­low, chief ex­ec­u­tive of na­ture NGO Buglife.

“I am afraid that it gives a green light to those de­fil­ing air and water clean­li­ness. It is es­sen­tial that gov­ern­ment acts quickly, firmly and vo­cally to dis­pel the ap­pear­ance that they are turn­ing a blind eye to peo­ple ru­in­ing our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Re­spond­ing the find­ings the EA said that over the past year it had re­duced se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents to their low­est level since 2011.


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