The severe storms and fatal floods that battered the country over the festive period have devastated many families.
Our thoughts are with those people who were forced to spend Christmas without loved ones, who lost their electricity supplies, and who have been left to clean up the damage from yet another ferocious storm at the weekend.
In the eye of these storms are the unsung heroes from the Environment Agency. Since Christmas our members at the Agency have been stretched to the limit, keeping communities safe and supporting people in the devastating aftermath of vicious storms. Sacrificing time with their own families to protect people in danger.
The Environment Agency has a single job – to look after the environment and make it a better place to live – and our members are at the forefront. They protect homes from impending floods, warn householders of danger, and keep river water clean for people and wildlife. They prosecute polluters, licence the amount of water taken out of rivers, and regulate the waste management and nuclear energy industries.
And yet at the same time that the Prime Minster was congratulating Environment Agency staff last week on their “amazing” work, came the news that more than 1500 workers in the Agency will lose their jobs before October. This is on top of the 2,000 jobs that have already been needlessly slashed since 2010.
Making so many skilled workers redundant will seriously effect the Agency’s ability to cope with future disasters. It is a disgrace that the Government is happy to put cost cutting before public safety and protecting family homes. They can’t have it both ways, praising the sterling work of members in the Agency in one breath, and in the next breath announcing further damaging cuts.
These disasters are not isolated incidents. More frequent storms have caused the cost of flood damage to double compared with the previous decade.
Yet today the Government continues its relentless pursuit of cutting public spending even further. And that means many public services at risk, including vital environment agency staff.