Leaked documents reveal Environment Agency ‘overwhelmed’ by staffing cuts and surge in pollution incidents
- The Environment Agency is planning to implement a controversial overhaul to its pollution response operations as it admits a surge in pollution incidents driven by climate change is “overwhelming” its depleted staff, according to documents seen by Unearthed.
- This comes as new data obtained by Unearthed under freedom of information rules shows the teams tasked with responding to pollution incidents have seen their numbers decline by 15% since 2015, even as the Agency’s budget and staffing has risen in that time.
- The new system, set to be introduced in April, will see all reporting of pollution incidents handled by a communications team rather than frontline officers. The EA told Unearthed these changes will not apply to water pollution.
- Only pollution incidents determined to be among the most serious will be assigned to environment managers — making official an apparent informal policy Unearthed revealed in 2018.