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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Just Epic Incompetence and Worse

Nearly four years ago the builders at North Mill and a number of commenters in the formal public consultation process highlighted / tried to draw Environment Agency officials attention to a quite literally show-stopping feature of the application for a hydro power installation at Weaver's Mill. 

Environment Agency officials were simply dismissive and continued to wilfully and arbitrarily promote the Weaver's Mill scheme, spending literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of public funds on contriving "evidence" to try and ensure their chosen outcome. International consultancies were commissioned by the EA officials to produce "independent" reports - those consultancies apparently couldn't see  what is entirely obvious to a layman looking at the weir at Avoncliff. - or perhaps, these companies - whose entire business essentially relies on public bodies were told not to look / mention anything "difficult"?

The Environment Agency's arrogance and hubris has been of such proportions that they did not even formally research the show-stopping issue alluded to above - not at all. It would seem that officials were so focused and intent on imposing their choice that they didn't actually bother to explore the technical and legal issues  believing - one actually has to assume - that with a bottomless wallet filled with inexhaustible public funds that they would get their way by using the tactics of massively outspending anybody with the temerity to challenge their whim and controlling the story by bullying the legacy media into accepting their "authoritative", "official" story via threats issued by an overactively inventive PR department.

So here we are - four years down the line and considerably in excess of £1,000,000 of public money spent ( quite a bit more by some estimates - not ours!) and the original proposed scheme at Weaver's Mill absolutely, categorically cannot be implemented - a fact which has been pointed out to EA officials repeatedly over nearly four years....

The fact that the lower EA "customer facing"officials have changed in those four years - but the strategy deployed has endured indicates that somebody in middle or more likely (very) senior management is behind this - and we intend that that person be exposed. The repeated failure to address substantive issues and a miserable parade of broken promises  (and what must be assumed to be lies) from senior EA officials can can now really only be interpreted as deliberate evasion and flagrant dishonesty - incompatible we believe with relatively high public office... 

Incompetence rarely travels alone - it is customary for other less savoury companions to be along for the ride.

It's a quote from somewhere that I can't reference - but that doesn't diminish it:

It is quite true that any organisation, if it is provided with continuous funding and little or no independent oversight, will rapidly go 'off the rails'. It will increase its powers, diminish its competence and ignore both legal rules and the fundamental principles of morality. It will become completely divorced from its original purpose and create new, unjustified reasons for its existence in self-perpetuating cycle.

I leave it to you to figure out who I think it might be a good fit for.....

We have deliberately not published a lot  (most) of the communications between ourselves and Environment Agency officials - in the hope that keeping things "confidential" would engender some degree of trust and freedom to speak plainly and give the EA "room to move". This gesture has been roundly and consistently abused. There have been egregious failings - promises were given - in hindsight it is abundantly clear that there was no intention to behave honourably or honestly and the EA book of mendacity is beginning to look like an Argos catalogue.

EA officials are supposedly obliged to share information about applications and their contacts with applicants to ensure transparency - it has come to our attention that EA officials have been doing work and guiding the actions of the applicant at Weavers Mill for some considerable time without advising us of the details - whilst simultaneously insisting that we follow full disclosure...   and officials have advised him on how to re-present his scheme so that they can approve it!!! (Since the one they've been pushing for four years and spent over a million quid of your taxes on has "crashed and burnt")

One can only tolerate so much deliberate provocation  - so - copies of communications between ourselves and the gentlemen below are coming here to the blog.

Our present unfortunate "single point of contact"  Ben Johnston
"Water Manager" John Sweeney
National Operations Director David Jordan (Linkedin)
Chief Executive Professor Paul Leinster  (Linkedin)

Gentlemen - you brought this on yourselves.


  1. I used to think the comment "Not fit for purpose" was an apt description of the Environment Agency. I believe I should re-evaluate my opinion as "Not fit for purpose" does not really fit anymore.
    I guess I will have to use "Not fit for anything" in future. I will get used to the change. I guess the EA will carry on regardless, what a shame.

    1. One does have to wonder as anon@19:37 says where it's all going to end up. The levels of competence in many (though not all) public bodies has plummeted to levels that the average person is noticing on a depressingly regular basis. It almost always seems that underperformance goes hand in hand with overpayment and a self regard that disappears off into the clouds.

      That very senior people in the EA obviously regard it as acceptable to make promises they have utterly no intention of keeping... well, one then has to apply that to *everything* else they say.

      I don't think it's unreasonable to say there must be wholesale change in the way the EA works and is accountable. The NDPB - "Government Agency" game has placed a raft of people outside even vestigial control by the people who pay for the services they reputedly provide.

    2. I'd add that they all rate their own performance too - never asking the victims to score them on every interaction - I mean - if Amazon, Ebay can do it ...

      Although I suppose that could get out of hand :-)

    3. Yes but how much are these fu----n idiots been paid....

  2. Bit like


    (not in any particular order) then?

    Really - what is it with pubic employment that causes all these people to act so badly?

    Just maybe - it's the utter lack of personal accountability - coupled to a delusion that they are untouchable?

  3. You might want to add Andy Sweetenham of Leeds office and Rita Reid of York office. These officials have had input.


  4. oops... 4 more comments were OK'd but they didn't for some reason show up in the main blog...

    And now they've gawn - as in pfft!

    So sorry, if you want to get your ha'porth in please re-send if yours hasn't appeared!

    sorry about that Blogger just did it - don't know why...

  5. Four things.

    i. Recruitment for all government bodies, is now subject to ethnic and diversity, equality quotas, the standard of educational achievements required from some of these groups - let us say that the bar is not set at a high level. The basic education of most school and college leavers is bog standard, even those who enter the EA - at graduate level.

    ii. Like all government agencies, recruitment is the victim of widespread nepotism and is rife - keep it in the family as they say, with obvious consequences for discipline, working ability and appropriate behavioural standards - is appalling eg sickies - two weeks annual, hangovers and boozy lunchtimes are the norm.

    iii. Quangos are responsible first and foremost to their masters - in Brussels.

    iv. With money no object, jobs guaranteed and no accountability - fobbing off, lying, prevarication, misdirection - is the norm.

    But if someone defunded and disbanded the EA tomorrow - by Sunday who would notice?

    1. On the last bit hopefully not the Job Centre as they have been paid too much above their real value already. They should be a new government statistic, "The Wastrels". After two years of unemployment, who, in their right mind, would employ an ex EA officer they could be sent out on the new government task for the long term unemployed. Clearing up the mess they've made.

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