Despite many court successes in the battle against the illegal disposal of waste, the EAs corporate plans for 2003-06 appear to focus away from waste issues and towards flood defence and fisheries. Investing in information technology to support regulatory work also features strongly in its plans.
The EA will see an increase in some areas of its budget following the Governments Spending Review 2002, but the inspection of waste disposal is not among the areas earmarked to receive more cash.
Overall, £800 million has been allocated for environmental improvement, with river basins and fisheries noted as a priority. But the Governments Grant in Aid budget, which could impact particularly on the EAs environmental protection activities, has been pegged at the 2000 levels of £111.4m.
A commitment to saving £16m through efficiency measures in the next financial year may mitigate the effects of the financial belt-tightening.
However EA chairman of the board, Sir John Harman, said: The pressure on our primarily grant-in-aid funded environmental protection workregulating pollution to land, air and watermeans that we will have to search for smarter ways of regulating.
Even with improved efficiency, it is likely that we will be unable to maintain some of our inspection and enforcement work and we will be unable to increase our efforts to help stem the rising tide of flytipping that higher costs of landfill may bring.
The EA will only agree final budgets in February once efficiency measures and smarter ways of regulating have been explored, in the hope that inspection work will suffer less.