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Union warns: 1,700 job losses at Environment Agency will increase flood risk

The Ecologist

26th November 2013

GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency, is warning thatcutting 1,700 jobs will increase the risk of flooding and threaten the good management of England's water resources.

Job losses on this scale will impact directly on flood risk management.

The GMB trade union is joining with Prospect, UNISON and Unite to oppose "short-sighted" austerity measures in the Environment Agency that will cull 10% of staff.

The unions plan to lobby MP and local councils and inform political parties and the public on the increased risks to safety, quality of life, and most of all, the threat to the environment.

They will also seek to "raise awareness that the cuts will cause a detriment to the environment and lead to a higher risk of flooding to persons and property."

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said: "The public needs to know that job losses on this scale will impact directly on flood risk management, on flood defence operations teams managing flood defences and carrying out river maintenance to enableflows to be conveyed away, enhancing the river's ecology and supporting fish stocks."

"We will show how these devastating cuts will impact on staff at the forefront of the service - the very people who are protecting the public by maintaining rivers, deploying sandbags, giving flooding warnings, surveying protected species, dealing with pollution incidents and advising planning authorities."

These front line teams, she added, also provide wider incident response containing river pollution, aerating watercourses to prevent fish deaths from low oxygen levels. So cutting flood risk funds will have a detrimental affect on the health of all rivers no matter what the interest.

The job losses will detrimentally impact on these other functions also undertaken by the Agency:

  • protecting the public from risks associated with radioactive waste
  • regulating polluting industries and preventing environmental crime
  • managing the country's water resources
  • ensuring safe bathing water quality
  • enhancing our rivers to support angling.

See also Environment Agency staff cuts risk economy and reputation.


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