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Evidence gathering

Evidence gathering

The Evidence Directorate collates and maintains all the relevant knowledge, facts, data and science available internally and externally.

It is part of the Environment Agency’s head office and leads on strategic environmental planning for the organisation, including reporting on the state of the environment (required under the Environment Act 1995). The directorate is also responsible for:

  • ensuring that all organisational data, mapping and modelling is properly managed
  • providing the science needed to support delivery of the corporate strategy and ensures that decisions are based on sound scientific evidence
  • providing the strategic direction for monitoring to ensure the agency gathers the right information to understand the environment and the pressures on it.

The agency's research and development programme spent £4.7m in 2011-12 and covered scientific and technical functions in environment protection, water resource management and flood and coastal erosion risk management.

Why is this important?

Evidence helps to identify emerging threats to the environment and people and understand how these change, both over time and spatially.

It allows the agency to understand the most effective interventions, and where to make them to achieve the optimum outcome for the environment and society. Through analysis and interpretation, the directorate's work informs decision-makers and ensures the agency can substantiate its decisions.

Where the cuts may fall

As this directorate is largely supported by grant in aid, the effects are likely to be significant and at least in line with the overall reductions in agency numbers of 10-15%.

The agency would be unable to follow technical developments in industry, mapping, modelling and monitoring if Evidence resources are significantly reduced.

Decisions would be increasingly likely to be based on poor science, leading to additional cost for industry and poor-quality information for government and other stakeholders.