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Friday, 15 November 2013

Business as Usual?

Business as Usual 

we are too!
A couple of weeks ago - rhe EA reputedly gave the owner of Weaver's Mill an "ultimatum", apparently to extract some kind of statement about his intent / plans regarding any application for a turbine since the property had been put up for sale - and promised to report the result as soon as to the owners of North Mill. There's a bunch of other stuff that we've been promised too - so we'll ask politely several more times...  We'll keep drumming our fingers on the table and rolling our eyes heavenward.....(nothing new there)

In the meantime the Cautionary Tale on the rather neglected main North Mill web site isn't reflecting what's gone on at Avoncliff in the last 18 months - so that'll get a wash and brush-up this week for those of you looking for some easy copy.....

We've also found the poster of a FoI question on What do They Know who's now going to push for an answer to the question "How much do The Environment Agency think they've spent on Avoncliff?" which the EA have left unanswered since June 2012..... that's going to be interesting. 

It may be coincidence ... but 4 days after this blog post the EA responded with most of the information we had asked about - those answers frankly raise even more questions than they actually answer  There must be a stronger word than "saga" but it's the only one that actually comes to mind at the moment. 


  1. I enquired at the Estate Agents - Cobb Farr of Bradford on Avon. Apparently a sale has been agreed. I asked if the weir shown in the picture was included in the property. They did not know. I asked if the turbine mentioned in the advert could make hydropower. They said all the details they had were in the text. Seems like the agent has been given minimal information. I wonder what the buyer has been told about the EA License Application.

  2. I hate to disappoint you but the EA have 20 days to respond to a communication and that's working days. So 4 weeks to any normal person. If Weavers Mill responded on the deadline in November don't expect the EA to forward an email until a similar date in December. They will still be within their guideline time. Of course when they want something no one else is allowed 20 days to respond, that would delay the process.

    1. Just as well we're not holding our breath - but then, we've now accumulated some practice dealing with the EA - and would actually be surprised (and probably a bit suspicious) if they answered straight away !

  3. At £52 / hour (from £1.2B/11,400/253(working days)/8hours(speculative!) - OK - an unfair number - but the numbers thrown out to justify the £37K FoI are equally arbitrary - you say somebody has reckoned £1.3M - that's 25,000 hours !!!

    25,000 hours work on a £150 licence ? Arithmetic a bit wonky I'l grant you - but still - how does one measure something like this?

    675 weeks (12 years : 37 hour week)

    Really - the EA have some explaining to to - big time.

  4. Only 12 years ? - it feels longer.

    Playing the relative costs game - which I've done in the past that'd be (152/47x1.3M) so, that'd be £400K and 3.7 years to *not* issue a rod licence for a fisherman....

  5. Scratch one state of the art health centre / 450 hip replacements for Bradford on Avon then?

  6. Something's out of whack - that's for sure - compare and contrast here one doesn't need a spreadsheet or a calculator.

  7. The word ultimatum is an often used description of EA deadlines. "By this date or else" comes to mind. Until, all of a sudden, there are reasons for them not to enforce the ultimatum, in a spirit of openness and transparency, to give a favoured scheme more time. I wonder if that has happened with Weavers Mill. It is up for sale, are they giving the seller extra time to ensure that the buyer can be enjoined to keep the process going at no cost to themselves to give the EA another reason to grant an unworkable license and so prolong the process. The only have to keep going for another year and then they won't exist and it will be down to someone else and the EA can be blamed but then it won't exist and they won't be working for it so can't be sacked from it.

  8. We are really pleased to tell you that much of what we were waiting for has arrived. Thanks to those at the EA who made it happen. Maybe they were influenced by this post. It confirms the power of the net!!

  9. The question has the most important thing arrived? Have you got a determination date yet? Have you got a license? Have the EA started telling the truth? I heard a joke about openness and transparency.
    When do you know the EA are lying to you? They claim they are being open and transparent.
    When do you know the EA are being biased and prejudiced? Their lips are moving.
    When do you know the EA are being harmful to the environment? They are breathing.

  10. I would like to laugh at the joke only it isn't a joke. Most of what is supposed to be funny would be if it was not true. The EA is better than hair colour, it will turn your hair grey no problem.


  12. I have copied this from someone else's blog but it is apt "As per the ‘Civilization’ game truism:- The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.” In the EA's case increase the bureaucracy and form and tick boxes and create new demands which have little or no relevance to a license that allows the use of an amount of water. Think of it if a brewery was abstracting water from the Avon to make special Bradford on Avon Bitter all the EA would want to know is how much they are taking and can they have some free beer when they come to check the figures and that the water is not being used for anything else. With hydropower, which returns all the water straight back into the river, instead of being consumed passed through drains to a sewage works and after treatment back into the river, it is slightly different. The EA want to know the complete design of the equipment, its location in relation to mAOD (metres Above Ordnance Datum), the amount of power that will be produced based on the figures provided, the equipment manufacturer and a host of more plainly irrelevant data. The structure comes under planning. The equipment has to meet safety parameter, the exact design is irrelevant. The DNO ensure that the power meets British standards. OFGEM only want to know what power is produced to pay the FiT.
    The EA license costs £150 which tends to show what work level should be involved and it is what a brewery or farmer pay for an abstraction license. The EA have increased the workload to such an extent for hydropower that they have stated they will be increasing the license fee for hydropower to £1500, for those mathematically challenged this is a tenfold increase / 1000%. This is slightly above inflation but they are a non government department. This will potentially help to pay for the extra workload they have created and secure some of the 11,400 jobs. I heard the other day that the figure was 14,000 and it was to be reduced by 4,000.
    bringing it down to 10,000. 4,000 off 11,400 would be better but of course instead of paying wages we would be paying inflated redundancy payouts and benefits for the unemployable. Well would you employ an ex public servant who only knows how to tick boxes and be as awkward as possible doing the minimum work and taking the maximum available sick leave.

    1. The brewery analogy is fine as far as it goes.

      You could also get a bit "closer to home" with a fishing rod licence - not only do the EA want to dictate what sort of rod you can use they also want to specify the hook, the line and the sinker.... :-) - They also publish their own fishing magazine - which I think is fair to say is categorically none of their damned business.... Many of the issues they lay claim to adjudge are the business of the *planning authority* and the EA are clearly acting well outside their legal mandate.

      The EA patently make stuff up in terms of "rules" as they go - and I mean invent stuff that isn't in statute books or in common law. This is why in essence the whole Avoncliff debacle happened.

      EA officials in an attempt to implement more "work" for themselves via the pre-application process were having private cozy chats with Mr. Tarrant and guiding him away from sillier things like trying to raise the level of the river 300mm and North Mill actually applied for a licence having employed a competent professional advisor - it was done properly, according to all the rules - and was approved. A number of officials decided they weren't going to let that go forward = and got busy perverting proper process.

      The EA were determined to extend their inept meddling in the licence process and officials ignored their own extant internal rules "first come, first determined - first awarded" against the direct advice of their own legal department. They have now blown well over £1,000,000 of public money attempting to "have their way" by mostly foul means.

      Box ticking and obstruction isn't the main thing that happened at Avoncliff - fraud is what happened - followed up by the wilful obstruction of proper process.

      Since Monty Python are making a comeback The Black Knight comes to mind - not that I'm complete fan - but you can sort of see what they were getting at.... Stangely enough - after reading the revelations at insidetheenvironmentagency another character from the same team also springs to mind ... (see him explode here)

  13. Can't wait to see what December brings. This saga is better than East Enders. The unfortunate thing it is real and not make believe. Then again no one could make up a story in which a department of the government was so incompetent and make it believable.

  14. Too many vested interested for any serious change to occur. This government cuts too deep and they are accused of not sticking to their promises of a greener government. What the government doesn't understand is that putting money in unproductive areas like the EA, NE, etc where abuse is ripe, will only impinge future economic growth. The fact that the regulations and powers given to the EA are warped and executed inconsistently is a further drag on growth as it restricts the productive side of the economy. Only recently the EA have expressed political support to anti-fracking groups. I am not against or in favour, but a neutral regulator should not be expressing political support of any groups - hence why it is an arms length body. It just further illustrates the misuse of power.

  15. Henry - can you point me at the EA "political support" for anti-fracking? Their silence on the matter is indicative of playing their cards close to their chests - but a number of people have made (very) ill advised statements and I wonder if there are more....

    Andrew Montford at Bishop Hill would be very interested in any fracking or climate related political manoeuvring by the EA - trying to insert themselves as "moral guardians" of the environment with universal mandate.

    The EA as Mother Theresa? a stretch - but I'm sure the PR crew (all 350 of them) will give it a spin....


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