Who audits the auditors?

In the summer the Environment Agency was audited by the Audit Commission.

Specifically, the Audit Commission looked at whether the money the Environment Agency was spending on controlling so-called ‘diffuse pollution’ was spent wisely.

Diffuse pollution is the pollution caused by tens of thousands of little pollution sources which seem unimportant individually and are very hard to control, but together take a huge toll. Like the dirty water that runs-off of roads, built-up areas, and from farmland. Diffuse pollution contrasts with pollution from big, obvious pipes – like the effluent that’s discharged from single big sources, like sewage works or factories.

But I was left wondering who is checking up on the auditors who have such a simplistic view of the natural world that they can represent the whole of the water environment with a picture like the one below.

An auditors view of the water environment, from which at least half of the water environment is missing

What’s wrong with the picture?

It represents only one kind of waterbody, and one at that which is not the commonest part of the water environment: rivers.

I’ve no doubt whoever drew it would say it was only meant to symbolise the water environment generally: but such representative pictures colour people’s thinking, and there seems to me a direct connection between the omission of everything except rivers from this picture, and the failure to properly protect the life that lives in all freshwaters.

We do, of course, know who audits this particular auditor: the Government.

Perhaps that explains why the Audit Commission was abolished.

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One Response to “Who audits the auditors?”

  1. A recent blog post over on the garden pond blog about the EA « Pond at 38 Nursery Rd Blog Says:

    […] http://thegardenpondblog.org.uk/2010/12/01/who-audits-the-auditors/ […]

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