DEFRA board widens skill base

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Two new appointments to DEFRA’s board will bolster its expertise in large-scale infrastructure delivery, civil engineering, accountancy and investment skills


DEFRA has appointed two new members to its departmental board to “improve delivery” of its services, with an emphasis on infrastructure and investment. 

Sir Philip Dilley, chair of the Environment Agency, and Andrew Sells, chair of Natural England, are joining the DEFRA board in an ex officio capacity. 
The board comprises the DEFRA ministerial team, executives, non-executive directors and the two new ex officio members. Chaired by Elizabeth Truss as secretary of state, it has a key role providing advice on issues such as strategy and deliverability of policies. It also scrutinises the department’s performance. 

Sir Philip took over as chair of the Environment Agency in England from Chris Smith in September 2014. He was previously executive chair of Arup Group, a member of the PM’s Advisory Group from 2011 to 2013 and chairman of London First. He founded the Infrastructure and Urban Development Community at the World Economic Forum. 

Sir Philip is also a member of the Governing Council of Imperial College. He graduated from Imperial College in 1976 with a First Class Honours degree in Civil Engineering. 

Andrew Sells was appointed chairman of Natural England in January 2014. A chartered accountant with an MBA from London Business School, he spent ten years with Schroders and then almost 20 years managing venture capital funds. 

He began his career as chair of specialist brownfield developer Linden Homes, and was chair of the Wyevale Garden Centres Group. Sells has also held trustee roles with the Royal Horticultural Society, right-of-centre think-tank Policy Exchange. 

With the Environment Agency facing pressure to act on flooding risks at a time of deep cuts, the new members will be well-placed to advise on cost-effective strategies.