Finally, the Environment Agency have responded with data for our FoI request. They have only highlighted 9 flood defence projects (with “authorised cost changes” only, despite our request for ALL cost over-runs, regardless of authorisation) over the period requested with a total overspend of ~£10million (with a number of excuses for why), but we are a little stumped here. We know that the Morpeth flood defence that was forecast to go £6m over budget, is set to cost ~£25 million and should have been in the pipeline before this financial year well before the first shovel hit the ground, so should have been considered in this request, but doesn’t seem to appear on the list, unless we have missed something.
Also, as any construction professional knows (and from what our ex-Flood Defence insider says), the vast majority of large scale projects like these typically go over budget, so to see just 9 projects highlighted over the period, it is highly suspect that this data is the whole picture.
Of course, these figures only covers projects that have cost over-runs (thanks EA for slipping in the Rawcliffe Bridge project that came under budget by ~£100,000 – why they included it we do not know, considering what we asked for, which again, leaves us suspect of the data provided).
Anyway, to say that this FoI was repeatedly delayed over the past few months for a mere 9 projects says a lot about the Environment Agency’s internal reporting and monitoring processes. We will be escalating this to our MPs, because the Environment Agency’s data raises more questions than it answers.
We’re particularly keen on hearing from Flood Defence experts still in the game – either internally or as a subcontractor – who can verify these details, as the one insider with this knowledge has been out for a few years. He thinks that this data is the tip of the iceberg and that the Environment Agency have released a tiny proportion of the projects that have run/are over budget to appease us.
We’ve had Environment Officers and Flood Officers share their experiences, we now have an EA Ops Delivery staff members who would like to share their experiences. Hopefully the first in a long line of what our new Ops members would like to share:
“Hi. I work for the EA and have seen all sorts of abuse. I work in ops and spend most of my days miserable I’m hard working and enthusiastic but Iv had most of that sucked out of me. On a daily basis my colleagues steal equipment, go home early, have hours for brew and dinner turn up drunk or even go to the pub at dinner. Spend most of the day asleep or shopping or not even where there ment to be. They steal petrol and diesel, they book overtime that they never did or add more to the time they have done. My line manager is more bothered about his own career that he neglects the aspirations of others looking to progress, there’s also people in leadership roles who don’t do there job properly and more suitable candidates are overlooked as I’v read on here and I agree with its who you know not how good you are. I would like to add much more if you would allow me ? Please let me know cheers”
“I wish the public could see the total wasteful nature of the environment agency, this is just a quick post but hopefully it will show you just a glimps of wasting money. Recently some ops departments stopped having there own equipment and started to hire it, the cost for this is massive for example hiring a strimmer for week costs £50 we have these on hire all year and at the moment we have four so there’s £2400 x 4 = £9600 a year, may not seem much but when you think we could buy our own and service them ourselves at a fraction of the price, also adding in that we have all been trained to use and service them ourselves. When a colleague spoke to our line manager about this he was told “what can I do about it” ? This is just one small example and I’m going to add more because it frustrates me so much, nobody seems accountable for anything, if it was a private company it could not operate in this way and would have gone bust years ago.”