Featured post

10,000,000 Miles in a Nissan Leaf?

Sunday 5 January 2014

How Much? has this debacle cost?

There's an assortment of numbers being bandied about. Primarily here at North Mill we have concentrated on the direct cost to the public purse (Last independent estimate August 2013 was £1.3 million). We are also obviously down a considerable amount due to the stalling of the development due to critical construction issues preventing progress on the site.

A Mr. Weston (about 1½ years ago) asked the EA about their costs (which we'd guessed / knew some)  in an as yet unanswered  FoI - which I chose to repeat in November 2013.

This time around  the EA responded within the FoI time window to my questions.

Can you please provide answers to the following questions:

1) Have tasks related in any way to hydro licencing at Avoncliff
been allocated a task / job code(s) for internal accounting
In answer to your first question, we have not allocated a specific
task/job code to the tasks related in any way to the Avoncliff hydropower
licensing issues.

2) What is the accumulated total EA funding allocated to tasks
associated with Avoncliff licence determinations - including
consultancy billing and legal expenses?
In answer to your second question, we have interpreted your request to
mean the accumulated funding allocated to tasks associated with the
Avoncliff licence determination since their return by the Court on 11
April 2012. Please inform me if we have misinterpreted your request. We
estimate our funding for the items you list to be £611,000

3) Can you give any reason for the delay in answering Mr. Weston's
In respect of point 3 of your request we are not able to confirm or deny
the existence of the information requested as to do so would breach the
First Data Protection Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998. 

The information requested is therefore exempt due to Regulation 13(5)(a)
of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which explains that:

So, taking the Environment Agency responses in order:

Internal Job/Task Control
I think it's not particularly reassuring that they volunteer that The Environment Agency does not appear to account internally for work performed to cost centres - this is mundane stuff - time sheets with job codes are familiar to just about all wage slaves / consultants / businesses.   One has to wonder how any figure generated in answer to question 2 can be arrived at if you've no record of who's done what related to Avoncliff ?

Environment Agency Costs related to Avoncliff
£611,000  (£962 a day for the period offered) Given that I deliberately specified no time frame one has to wonder about the reasons for applying an arbitrary accounting period (11th April 2012 to date 635 days ) which excludes the 940 days (from Sept 15th 2009) between our initial application for a licence and that date. It's sooo tempting to mischievously arbitrarily apply proportionality to this  for  those 940 days = £904280......  making a totally arbitrary grand total of £1.5 million+..  one can understand that EA officials might not be happy with this interpretation - but hey, we didn't choose the time frame to report.

Why Didn't You Answer Mr. Weston's FoI?
Well,  could have simply said it got overlooked, lost etc - I leave people to come to their own conclusions about this...... We know who was fielding the FoI and have come to our own conclusion.

The public cost volunteered by The Environment Agency
has to be added to costs incurred by:

The Information Commissioner
The Parliamentary Ombudsman
Members of Parliament
The Administrative Division of The High Court
H.M  Planning Inspectorate
3 years+ loss of Tax Revenues to both local and central government
(VAT, Income Tax, Business Rates, Council Tax)
Loss of Green Power related funds

Even by the EA's own wonky accounting
this debacle is flushing the best part of £1000 a day...

And they are still trying to impose an arbitrary outcome to "get their way" and
moving heaven and earth not to be seen to "lose"
- to a couple of builders from Bradford on Avon.......

My own estimate - fwiw - is that with the EA's own cost estimate - the direct cost to the public purse alone in this matter exceeds the £1.3 million (August 2013) number which must be at the lower end of any overall public cost estimate for the project - I can't help thinking that's insane for a £150-ish licence...

It's only 635 days since
the EA were instructed by the High Court to sort this out "without delay"


  1. Oh my god what a bunch of idiots! I do hope the fools dealing with this are included in the 1,500 staff that lose their jobs but no doubt it will be the foot staff that get wet and their hands dirty that will lose the jobs and not the lazy t**ts sat behind their desks earning 3x the money of the workers.
    April 2012 and no decision it is clear that the EA are in the wrong WHAT THE HELL IS OWEN PATTERSON DOING its not why I pay my taxes Mr Cameron sack all of the bosses overseeing this debacle you could probably save 100 EA workers by sacking 10 bosses NIP THIS IN THE BUD NOW!!!!!

  2. £1000 pounds a day! what the f**ck HOW long can this take? they must be finding it very hard to screw these builders over its now quite obvious they should have received this licence, or after nearly 2 years they would have given it back to the original, are they aloud to be so biased and malicious? surely not I hope MPs are watching this? and still no hydro power at Avoncliff. MIKE Bath

  3. So if you fiddle housing benefit to the tune of £18,000 plus you go to prison ? if you waste ONE MILLION plus you get nothing . Put the people dealing with this mess in the dock. This is outrages i am going to my MP first chance i get my friends have just put up with the misery of a flooded house.

  4. BISHOPS HILL www inside the environment agency

  5. Well guy you should check out the article in Narrow Boat World. jobs at the EA need to go but at the top, somebody needs to be made accountable.

  6. And just remember all the officers will keep their jobs and 1500 good guys will go. Think this is scandalous ,name and shame them.

  7. What is clear the two builders were correct to JR, the EA lost, and these two builders are still fighting their corner 5yrs on. The worry has to be that these guys will JR again the EA must be aware that this fiasco may go on another 5yrs how many MILLIONS of £££ of tax payers money could this cost? I am told the other Mill is For Sale so why are the EA still messing about the decision is simple if the other side is selling due to financial problems I am told so no JR from them, for gods sake it will save us tax payers a fortune . Or is that just to simple? BIG JON b-on-a

  8. A real question is do North Mill need a license to put back their waterwheel. Apparently they have repaired the sluice gate and removed all the debris. We saw that this summer with much lower river levels in B-on-A and when you looked at the site from the canal bridge you could see the flow through the wheel channel. It means they have control of the river levels so how will Weavers Mill ever be able to operate? I have been told, so this may be considered to be hearsay, that the EA objected to them operating the sluice gate and claimed it was new, not repaired, without even looking at it. If the EA has made them close the sluice gate does that make the EA officer concerned responsible for the recent flooding in B-on-A?

  9. There seems to be a lot of media around Henry's story. What are the chances of getting this out into the media also? You are not the only ones having these kinds of problems and identifying these kinds of wastes, so getting this out could encourage more experiences to come out, and might even speed up this debacle!

  10. What gives Paul Lienster and David Jordan the right to pour public funds into the bottomless hole.All these jobs are going because you are running the ship aground you do not get it. Do the job if its to much for you pack it in. 1500 jobs to go include all the idiots who have been involved in this mess!

  11. The EA are now trying to tax the amount of water hydro turbines use, no doubt to pay for this mess, I am furious to learn that the head of Mendip Power Group {Anthony Battersby} has helped to cause this mess by backing the Weavers Mill scheme who owner is his friend and a member using MPG paper work without members knowledge. I have now been made aware that he also has information that he is withholding from the EA that would put an end to this mess but would NOT help Weavers Mill, Mr Battersby is helping waste public funds and holding up another hydro project, which really does put the Mendip Power Group in a hypercritical place, just because his mate Mr Tarrant cleans golf balls from his trash cleaner SHAME ON YOU

    1. For those who aren't aware of it a few minutes reading and a cup of tea (careful with the keyboard) here provides a little background to this comment.

    2. Ozzy Goring is a proper engineer who understands turbines and water power. Battersby is a no all, he no`s f--k all. And there are to many so called turbine engineers. Bradford-On-Avon is still waiting on one at Kingston Mills. Supposed to be up and running ?

    3. And who is supposed to be manufacturing the Kingston Mill turbine? I believe the company is called Artistic Talents Ltd, the director being the owner of Weavers Mill. How does artistic talent match with turbine manufacturing? Mr Battersby used Ossberger and would now appear to be saying his turbine has not got "Artistic Talent"

  12. It seems senior civil servents need bonuses for them to do their jobs, but one suspects hi-viz clad shovel toting drain clearance workers just get threatened with the sack if they dont meet productivity levels.

    Dunno about culling badgers - but from what I read here and at the EA insider blog it looks like EA management need a cull.

    £1000 a day ? eearrrgh!

  13. The insanity of this is just....

    The DEFRA Permanent Secretary (EA big boss) earns £165kpa.

    To pay his salary you need every penny from 52 private-sector workers - each earning £25kpa & each paying £3112pa in income tax - and that's for just ONE of the 400+ civil servants who earn over £150kpa a number of whom are at the EA itself

    Or... to put it another way your £1.3m over 4 years is the taxes of (£1.3m/4)/£3112. = every penny of 104 "average" people's taxes for the last 4 years has been funding this mess..... that's not good.

  14. If the EA had done the job correctly they would have noticed a HUGE effing WATER WHEEL at North Mill [should have gone to specsavers] it seems the river bed belongs to North Mill so the water rights belong to NORTH MILL no licence is required for existing equipment, ITS HISTORIC. SO WHAT stupid fool at the agency missed this and cost the tax payer all this money? This stinks of maladministration and could sadly cost a lot more to the public purse. TAX PAYERS ALLIANCE follower

  15. I have no sympathy with people who don't pay their income tax. But I can understand avoiding paying as it can be clearly seen that many government departments simply waste our money. From this information the EA in particular. Shouldn't they reduce the number to 1500 getting rid of the 90%. This will of course happen when the Qango is disbanded but of course the majority of the dross will be renamed the Canal & River Trust or someother name and we will still be paying for the same people to waste money.

  16. Can someone tell me what "without delay" means please. I was always under the impression that it meant "as soon as possible", "don't hang about", "no wasting time", "like yesterday" even "now or else". Have I misunderstood the meaning of "without delay"?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. According to multiple legal resources - it means :

    Within the reasonable time allowed by custom, statute, or usage.

    Statute is out - I suppose that leaves custom + usage - trouble is whose custom and usage ?

    One and a half years to comply with / obey a court order??

    Most people would be astounded that we have to go to the court to get the order enforced - when the EA are obviously thumbing their noses at the High Court / Administrative Court ...just a shame really that some officials don't have to purge that obvious contempt with a bit of porridge

  18. I've heard on the grapevine that the EA is planning on increasing licence fees later in the year, once the political bashing has dropped to the wayside. Not good for businesses, renewable energy or fishers.

    1. Yep - possibly from £135 to £1500 for an "abstraction" application or a PAYG scheme (also known as a tax by some...)

      Daresay they'll not reduce any other fees either and have the gang out looking for fine-able activity ....

  19. Without delay and speedily in the eyes of the EA means £611,000 pounds later not finished, Ignore a high court judge. This is CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR what are we paying for monkeys, we certainly are not paying monkey nuts, Lienster and Jordan earn more than the prime minister. Hospitals, Schools ,Soldiers,Flood Victims have no money but the EA have a bottomless pit to waste.What is government about this mess.

  20. The rivers are flooding, why? Could the following be the reason?
    The analogy has already been used that if your arteries clog up, you get blockages to the blood flow causing, strokes, heart attacks and death.
    The rivers are arteries. They have not been cleared of silt build up for years. They cannot handle the flow they used to so instead of a blockage, as in the human body, the rivers burst their banks and flood the surrounding countryside, farms, villages, towns and cities.
    A few simple examples. At Romney Weir, Windsor there is a hydro scheme serving the castle. It has to stop operating at river levels below +7" above the Standard head Water Level. The EA is supposed to operate the Locks in a range of -4" to +8" so why +7", one inch from the upper limit? There is so much silt that boats will ground if the level is at SHWL. This does however mean that in a flood the river is already 7" above what it should be. This means that a property that has 1" of water in should have been safe if the EA had dredged the river. It should be noted that Windsor Castle is more than 7" above the river so it should not be flooded and therefore the chance of knighthoods for senior EA staff should not be at risk. There are many examples of this up and down the river. One is Sunbury. The base of the Lock Gates is 3m below SHWL. The sill of the weir sluice gates is 3.1m below SHWL. The navigation channel alongside the weir to the lock should be 3m deep. It is actually 2.2m deep which means there is 0.8m of silt build up just in that section alone. The EA try to keep the upstream reach at +6" so that boats using the local marinas do not bottom out (hit the river bed). This again means houses flooded 6" before they needed to. All thanks to the EA not doing their job properly.
    It seems to be a case of don't dredge- cause floods- get money for flood defences- don't dredge - flood defences won't work and you get more money for useless projects showing that you are really needed. If it wasn't for the EA not dredging in the first place there would not be half the flooding our rivers would be able to cope generally if they had been maintained properly.

    1. The Thames Conservancy Act 1932 (yes this still applies, the section quoted has not been amended) Section 73 (1) says - Subject to the provisions of this Act the Conservators from time to time may for the purpose of determining the height or depth of water at any place in the Thames fix in or at any lock on the Thames head-water and low-water and such other marks as they deem necessary and may regulate as they think fit the opening shutting and management of the locks and works on the Thames and the drawing down or keeping back of the water by means of any of those locks or works. Basically the EA interpret this as they can decide any level they wish so if the want to operate at +7" they can.
      But 73 (3) states The Conservators (that's the EA) shall as far as reasonably practicable prevent the waters of the Thames being at any place above the level of any head-water mark for the time being fixed at such place. It is obvious in flood that they cannot control the level but surely in normal flows they should be making all attempts to keep to SHWL.
      The SHWL -4" to +8" is range for a Lock is what the Lock Keeper has to not exceed. It is acceptable that overnight the river may do things but in the morning the Lock Keeper should make his adjustments to return to SHWL. The EA are breaking the law by running a reach at above SHWL as custom and practice. As usual the EA are a law unto themselves. Another example of them ignoring what isn't convenient.

    2. Does this mean that if it can be shown that the EA has consistently kept the level of a section of the river above SHWL they are responsible for the flooding and therefore responsible for the compensation?

    3. Perhaps somebody should tell the Sultan of Oman, Paul Daniels, Michael Parkinson etc., etc.... and all the others on the lower Thames .... ?

      Parky's probably not happy to be squelchy ...

  21. inside out west BBC no money to dredge the Somerset levels.....say the EA.....Bullshit ....the EA have wasted over one MILLION pounds just on Avoncliff to cover up the lies and corrupt specialist reports .Just check out there offices like palaces new trucks, blackberry's, uniforms. No wonder they have no money they spend it on themselves.

  22. There is a simple reason the EA do not dredge. By dredging you remove the bed of the river which will harm the macrophytes and macro-invertebrates that live and grow on the river bed. Of course these need a clean bed and silt build up hinders their spread and growth. The river Thames has very few clean gravel areas which support spawning and these are a priority for the EA. Of course where there is silt build up the natural gravel beds are covered so inhibiting fish spawning. The River Basin Management Plan gives phosphate levels in the river as the reason it will not reach Water Framework Directive status of Good by 2027 because to remove it would be disproportionally expensive. Of course, you guessed it the phosphate is held in the silt and mainly originates form fertilizers sprayed on fields being washed into the river in the silt. So in summary it would seem leaving the silt in place is causing/contributing to a number of problems apart from flooding. I guess the simple answer is to dredge. The macrophytes and macro-invertebrates (no you can't see them without a microscope) will start to repopulate the cleaned river bed immediately after dredging and gravels will be available for spawning when that time of year comes around. Let's try to improve our rivers shall we EA, "Protectors of the Environment".

  23. Well, GOOD NEWS: Agency gravy train at the end of the line http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Agency-gravy-train-end-line/story-20408134-detail/story.html#ixzz2qUUy0eOU, but the BAD NEWS: Avoncliff debacle STILL not resolved. Fix this shambles, wring the necks of the abusers still working for the EA and set some serious examples to preven this ever happening again.

    1. An Admiral Byng moment required?

      The EA as it stands are clearly not fit for purpose and are led by a cabal of overpaid incompetents who are plainly only too happy to give license to their minions to misbehave - so long as their personal shortcomings aren't exposed to the point where they are sacked.

      Trouble is - it's the same story across the public sector - we're paying for a first class service put but we're simply being forced to push a gravy train full of obese bureaucrats and their cronies with our taxes....


Get it off yer chest - please keep it civil