The Environment Agency (EA) anticipates a reduction of 1,400 staff between now and 2016, one-eighth of its current workforce.
The numbers were reported in an EA statement said: “We are still determining the scale of any reduction in staff numbers. We anticipate a reduction of 1,400 staff between now and 2016 no final decision has been made.”
There are currently 11,400 staff at the EA.
The job losses come after the Defra budget was cut by 10% from £2.2bn for 2014/15 to £2bn in 2015/16. The changes were announced by the chancellor George Osborne as part of the Spending Review in June.
At that time it was announced that the EA budget for 2013/14 would be reduced to £1.096bn from £1.112bn in the previous year.
Sam Corp, head of regulation at the Environmental Services Association (ESA) said: “ESA is concerned that the drastic cuts to the EA’s staff numbers could have a significant impact on the environment as well as on the operations of responsible waste management companies.
“ESA’s members rightly expect that the EA will process permit applications and modifications in a timely manner. Staff reductions of this nature could, for example, cause delays in permit applications and modifications which would have a direct financial impact on ESA’s members and potentially hinder investment in the sector.
“We are also concerned that further cuts will impact on the agency’s efforts to crack down on waste crime. Whilst we recognise the need to make cuts in public spending, these should not be at the expense of the environment and human health.”
Steve Lee, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive, said: “The budget cuts are cause for concern across all areas of the EA’s remit. With evidence to suggest that there is a growing link between waste and organised crime, however, we believe that waste crime must be considered a priority.”
He added that CIWM and other key industry organisations have jointly written to the Government to say that funding for the EA’s dedicated task force must not be cut.