Marian Spain confirmed as Natural England CEO

Marian Spain has been appointed as the ‘new’ chief executive of Natural England, taking the post on a permanent basis after serving as interim chief executive since December 2018.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

I want to thank Marian for all her excellent work over the last year.

As we focus on setting environmental policy and farming support outside the European Union, Natural England has never been so important. I am looking forward to working further with Marian as we link together our wide range of initiatives to restore this nation’s nature.–2

It’s a slightly odd quote when you consider the Secretary of State thanks Marian for her work in the last 12 months when she has been doing the job for about 17 months. It will make some wonder quite what he means. The last year would take us back to just after Natural England pulled the general licences abruptly and without warning but that surely isn’t what Mr Eustice meant.

Natural England chair Tony Juniper said:

Marian has shown an unrivalled commitment to protect and enhance our natural environment along with excellent leadership skills.

It is so important not only for Natural England but also our environment to have someone with Marian’s passion and experience to lead our teams at this vital time for conservation. She will ensure that the organisation can meet the challenge of restoring nature, which lies at the heart of the government’s environmental policy, as the country recovers from the impact of coronavirus.–2

It’s slightly difficult for some of us to see restoring nature at the heart of the government’s environmental policy… Hen Harriers? Badgers? HS2?


15 Replies to “Marian Spain confirmed as Natural England CEO”

  1. They put out an interesting blog post the other day about their licensing.
    The following admission is a howler. “The scale of lethal control of these gulls that has been applied for is considerably greater than the levels of lethal control which Natural England has concluded are ecologically acceptable for these species.”
    Basically an admission that their licence system had never been fit for purpose or properly assessed. Its clear that there could potentially be direct link between the unregulated gull cull and the populations status of the birds.

      1. One wonders how NE calculates the ‘ecologically acceptable’ number of gull killings in the first instance. What’s the objective? An increase in the breeding population? A stable number? I think we should be told (with apologies to Private Eye).

        1. Alick – I think that NE have taken a quite sensible position (thanks, in part, to Wild Justice’s legal challenge last spring). Here is what i wrote about the change when it happened in January . So the objective, for the rural populations of these two gulls, is to allow them to increase in numbers and to prevent culling on moorland (mostly I think) to continue to cause population declines of the species in England and a continuing big, very big, decline in the numbers of a colony of european importance. That almost sounds like nature conservation doesn’t it!?

          Natural England realised that a general licence could not be regulated – and so moved to specific licences. But now they need a big pile of specific licences that they go through and allocate cull quota to a certain number of applicants to linmit the overall cull.

          Much of the pile should, I’m guessing, simply be thrown away as being based on nothing whatsoever.

          1. That’s helpful, thank you. It would be interesting to read some of the justifications in these applications.

  2. Congratulations to Marian Spain on landing the job, but shouldn’t the vacancy have been advertised to allow other candidates the chance to apply?

    It seems she was parachuted in, then just given the job with no competition.

    Was her appointment made permanent by an individual, by a panel or by the Natural England board?

    A little transparency wouldn’t come amiss.

    1. If you Google it you’ll see it was advertised. Closing date 6 March.

  3. I have to say that, having worked for Marian, this doesn’t fill me with much joy.

  4. Well to counter balance Messi, I have worked with Marian in the past and think she will do a good job. Time will tell.

    1. As is said, time will tell on the effect Marian Spain’s confirmed appointment will have on Natural England. I must say NE decisions and policies could not get much worse for our wildlife than they are at present. When one puts that alongside all this Government’s “hog wash”, which no sensible person would believe, about big improvements in the environment and biodiversity, a radical change of policy and direction is needed from NE. This, I am sure is not going to happen.
      Actions speak much louder than words. We have had an awful lot of words from this rotten Government and NE but their actions are completely in the opposite direction to their words.
      I think Wild Justice is going to be kept pretty busy for the foreseeable future Mark.

    2. For several years Natural England have done anything but a good job. Yes that is largely the fault of government but they have had and needed acquiescent folk at the top, the one thing they have never been under Tory rule is independent of view or action. They are important, but starved of funds and staff as they are they are barely hanging on, at a time when our environment needs them badly, especially that old independent voice.

    3. My perspective is from one who’s worked within an organisation run by Marian, so I can only reflect on her operational abilities. She’s very good as an outward facing ambassador for sure. I’m not sure what the main role of an NE CEO is. She may well excell in the role, which will be wonderful. Good luck to Marian and NE.

      1. For what its worth, its a similar story north of the border…where SNH were donated a spare career civil servant to act as an administrative CEO.

  5. If you think NE is doing a good job – then think again.

    After seven years under their stewardship, we have spent the last five years correcting all their initial mistakes – we don’t listen to their nonsense any more and as a result our species list have quadrupled.

    Whether this lady is any good – it doesn’t matter – NE will keep to their mantra no matter what.

  6. Congratulations to Marian – having worked with her quite extensively, I’m pleased and wish her good luck on very challenging times. Bu far the biggest game in town is agricultural funding – there were complaints about NE staff being put on EU work – I’d have put as many people as i could into Defra, even if it meant dropping other work because this is a once in a lifetime(not generation) opportunity, and there is leverage because it should be possible to improve the environment and save money. And given the right direction farmers will respond – behind all the intensification bluster there is only one real issue – the bottom line, and with predictions of 50% of farmers going put of business there is as much to play for for them as for the environment

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