James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency has written the below letter to partners outlining the Environment Agency's response to coronavirus.
Coronavirus is causing concern across the country for everyone, both personally and professionally. I want to let you know about the steps the Environment Agency is taking at this difficult time.
Our key priorities are to protect the health, safety and well-being of our own staff, the public and the businesses and partners we work with; to prevent loss of life and serious harm to the environment; and to keep our critical operations running.
We are doing this by following the Government guidelines on reducing the risk of Coronavirus; by seeking to act quickly, decisively and proportionately; and by responding flexibly as the situation develops.
We have put in place arrangements to ensure that as far as possible we can:
- Continue to respond effectively in the event of a major flood, pollution or other incident;
- Carry out our regulatory activities in a safe, secure and effective way;
- Keep our operational sites, such as flood barriers, up and running;
- Support businesses who face their own operational difficulties;
- Sustain our cooperation with the emergency services, local authorities and other partners, including in the Local Resilience Forums which are helping manage the current crisis.
In line with government advice most of our teams are now working from home and making use of virtual meetings where possible, and working in shift or staggered work patterns to minimise social contact where this isn’t. Where we have staff out on the ground, for example inspecting assets we operate or other parties’ sites which we regulate, they will be adhering to the latest advice from Public Health England.
While we will aim to provide the best possible service that we can, you will understand that in current circumstances we will not be able to operate as normal. We will need to stop or slow some of our normal activities in order to focus on the most important and urgent.
We are already receiving inquiries from our customers and partners about the type of service we will be able to provide for the foreseeable future. We will be engaging with specific partners and sectors in greater detail in the coming days. Please let us know if you have or foresee any issues in relation to your own activities due to the spread of Covid-19 that may affect how we currently work together.
This is a fast-moving and challenging situation. But by working together we are confident we can find the solutions we need to meet those challenges.