New Agency boss sets out restructuring plan

New directorates are being formed at the Environment Agency as its new chief executive Paul Leinster begins to flex his muscles. It is hoped the new structure will be in place by 1 April 2009.

The Environment Agency is creating three new directorates on evidence, flood and coastal risk management, and environment and business. These will replace the existing water management and environmental protection directorates.

The aim of the restructure is to make it easier for firms to interact with the sprawling Agency and increase its effectiveness.

There will be no redundancies, nor will any of the 12,500 staff have to reapply for jobs, but some may have to take on extra responsibilities. "This is a brigading of existing resources to provide greater effectiveness in what we do and a greater customer focus," said the Agency’s chief executive Paul Leinster.

A key change, he says, will be the formation of an account manager-type role to provide a lead liaison point for various industries. At least one will be assigned to each key sector that the Agency deals with. They will be responsible for helping sectors, firms and trade associations understand what is going on in the Agency around their industry.

"They might not have all the answers, but they will know who is doing what and help to point people to those who do," said Mr Leinster. "For example, our work on agriculture happens across the organisation, but when we are talking to farmers we need someone who can discuss the whole agenda."

The changes also take into account recent government rearrangements by creating new teams mirroring the agendas of the new Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Environment Department (DEFRA), the Communities Department (DCLG) and the Business Department (BERR).

One of the most challenging departments to maintain relationships with will be DECC. Officials there report ongoing tensions between staff. Bringing energy and climate change together and creating a unified view among former BERR and DEFRA staff has been recognised as a key challenge for the young department (ENDS Report 405, pp 4-5 ). One senior official told ENDS: "We’re no longer calling each other ex-DEFRA and ex-BERR people, we now refer to each other as ‘energy’ or ‘climate’."

The three new directorates will be:

  • Evidence: This directorate will bring together the Agency’s science and evidence work to provide "delivery of compelling evidence" to inform the way it deals with environmental issues, inform the environmental debate and provide advice.

    "We want to understand what the data is telling us, what are the pressures on the environment and what action could be taken," said Mr Leinster. "We want to better understand flows through the environment and through the economy and deliver compelling evidence for action."

    Along with its science teams, the directorate will comprise chemical and biological monitoring staff, the Agency’s economists and a data team.

  • Environment and business: Led by the existing director of environmental protection, Tricia Henton, this new directorate will bring together parts of the old water management directorate and the environmental protection directorate. It will comprise five main groupings:

    A water resources group made up of existing water quality and water resources teams, acting as the Agency’s central point for liaison with the water industry.

    A regulated business group with staff working on waste, industry and the nuclear sector. It will also be responsible for the Agency’s better regulation work.

    A new land and water management group will have responsibility for working with the farming community and oversee the implementation of the water framework Directive. The Agency’s fisheries and ecologies team will also sit within this group.

    A new climate change and energy group will also be formed and will be DECC-facing. A further group will consider, planning, people and places, and issues that overlap with DCLG.

  • Flood and coastal risk management: This directorate has been created in response to recent funding increases and the findings of the Pitt Review (ENDS Report 402, p 49 ) which led to the Agency gaining a strategic overview of coastal and inland flooding.

    In part, the changes have been prompted by forthcoming senior retirements. David King, director of water management; Nigel Reader, director of finance; and Ric Navarro, director of legal, all leave in April. The Agency began searching for replacements in November.

    As well as replacements for Nigel Reader and Ric Navarro, directors are being sought to lead the new evidence and flood and coastal risk management directorates. Recruitment is also under way for a new director of operations following Mr Leinster’s move up to chief executive. The new structure should be in place by April.

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