I remember a councillor talking to me about cuts like dredging at a council meeting once, he was even more cynical than me. He said: "Imagine that a council has to make £1m of cuts, what do you cut? Things that only happen if there's a problem, and there hasn't been one for 20+ years, or things that'll directly affect you getting re-elected next time round? Easy choice for the vast majority of politicians."
I also remember the days when government ministers used to accept accountability for their decisions.
A good proportion of the problem lies with the mindset of Environment Agency officers. They are far more concerned with increasing the habitats of mosses, reeds, eels, voles, insects and molluscs than they are about safeguarding the habitats of mere human beings.