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Whistleblowing charity finds ‘widespread lack of awareness of law’ and how to raise environmental concerns

By Bianca Castro >>

(23 October 2023)

More than a fifth of workers would not speak up about environment issues at work due to fear of reprisals, according to research from whistleblowing charity Protect.

The other main barriers to employees reporting damage to the environment are concerns about providing proof (22%) and worries that concerns would not be dealt with properly (20%).

The research also found only 36% of workers believe they can raise environmental issues and be protected under whistleblowing law.

Of those who had raised an environmental issue or damage at work in the past two years, 33% said their concerns were ignored; 74% of respondents said they faced negative treatment for raising their concerns.

In 2022, only six of the 2,500 calls to Protect’s advice line related to environmental concerns.

The research follows the launch of the charity’s environmental whistleblowing toolkit which aims to provide steps on how to raise a concern and the legal protections in place.

The 80-page document was drafted with the help of lawyers, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and journalists.

The Environment Agency for England, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the environmental regulators under a duty to report data on whistleblowing concerns reported to them, received a total of 38 disclosures between them in the reporting year 2020/2021.

Caitlín Comin, legal officer at Protect, said: ‘Low numbers of environmental whistleblowing reporting are surprising and concerning. Our survey shows a widespread lack of awareness of the law or how to raise a concern.

‘Workers are best placed to spot when things go wrong. With the right information, they can raise concerns and damage can be prevented, minimising the impact on the environment. By exposing environmental wrongdoing, they can also help ensure organisations are accountable for their climate impact.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)