Trades unions GMB, Prospect, Unison and Unite have launched a campaign against the austerity measures that would reduce the agency’s headcount by 1,700. They says the cuts will cause a detriment to the environment and lead to a higher risk of flooding to persons and property.
GMB national officer Justin Bowden 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 enables flows to be conveyed away, enhancing the river's ecology and supporting fish stocks.
“These teams 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 effect on the health of all rivers no matter what the interest.”
The Environment Agency this week published figures that indicated flooding in 2012 cost the UK economy £600m in infrastructure damage and disruption to businesses.
Environment Agency director of flood and coastal risk management David Rooke said that every £1 spent on preventing flooding saved £8 in repairing damage. And he warned: “Extreme events, such as the flooding and drought in 2012, are likely to become more frequent and more severe in the coming decades.”