Environment Agency in positive discrimination row over training programme closed to white English people

Campaigners will this week ask the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to freeze an Environment Agency training programme which white English people cannot apply for.

The government body is advertising £13,000-per-year training posts specifically encouraging applications from “Asian, Indian, white other (eg Irish, Welsh, Scottish, European), African, Caribbean or mixed race origins”.

Positive discrimination is allowed under section 37 of the Race Relations Act for training posts where it can be proved that certain groups are under-represented.

But the Environment Agency reportedly told the Daily Mail it had “no evidence that white Scottish, Welsh or Irish workers were under-represented” in the region.

Civil rights group Liberty and Law told Personnel Today it would ask the CRE to investigate whether this case breached the conditions of section 37.

“We will ask them to freeze the job pending the outcome of the investigation – they have been known to do this in the past,” said director Gerald Hartup.

The situation came to light when 18-year-old Abigail Howarth received a letter from PATH National, the firm handling the recruitment process, telling her there was no point applying as she was English and white.

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