Changes on Natural England Board

The current Natural England board is:

  • Andy Clements – stands down 13 July 2020
  • Teresa Dent – stands down 13 July 2020
  • Simon Lyster – stands down 13 July 2020
  • Michael Winter – stands down 20 August 2020
  • Catherine Dugmore
  • Sue Hartley
  • Henry Robinson

And so get your hankies out to wish a tearful farewell to the four departing board members: two nature conservationists, an academic and Teresa Dent. If any of them would like to write a guest blog about their greatest achievements on the board, or Natural England’s greatest achievements while they have been board members, I’d be very happy to publish it.

The newcomers from 1 June, and the DEFRA announcement:

Off go three men and one woman, and on come three women and one man.

At first glance, there is a conspicuous lack of professional conservation experience in the new Natural England board. But I think it looks pretty good all told. Teresa Dent will, of course, be missed but it’s possible that Natural England will be able to cope.

Kerry ten Kate is a bright person with bags of relevant experience. An economist who has been on the Natural Capital Committee is unlikely to swallow the drivel that comes from the grouse shooting fraternity and sorority. And Kerry has been an RSPB Council member for a while where she will already have formed some sort of view about Natural England.

And Peter Unwin is a sharp, astute and reliable ex civil servant (whom I know from years back). He was a Grade 2 in DEFRA at the time of swingeing cuts in 2010 and saw it all happening and how it happened. He will be a very useful advisor to Natural England, and to the CEO and Chair in particular, about how to play the Whitehall game. But also, he is one of the very few senior DEFRA officials in my experience who sought the jobs in nature conservation rather than in agriculture – he is a calm, cool-thinking nature conservationist himself.

I know nothing of Rosamund and Kim except what anyone can Google.

These things are very difficult to predict, but I would say that this board is heading in a favourable direction.


7 Replies to “Changes on Natural England Board”

  1. Thanks for this informative report Mark. I do hope the newcomers stiffen the resolve of Natural England in favour of actually protecting our wildlife because NEs performance recently has been shoddy and in favour of commercial interests. Usually to the detriment of wildlife.

  2. I don,t know how the system works but why are 4 board members standing down ? Is it embarrassment of what damage they have done, lack of public accountability and credibility ?
    The man at the helm has been steering the vessel into some fog so let,s hope the new staff can steer it out .

  3. Seems strange that so many should come to the end of their term at the same time, it hardly allows for continuity. Then again NE are hardly in a good place at the moment although how much of that is down to the board and how much to the “poor parenting” of DEFRA is open to debate. A new board may help but proper financial support and independence from DEFRA would be the best of all plans.

  4. I sort of have a feeling that the tide may be turning – though probably don’t look to brood meddling etc for the signs of ne shoots – and that NE’s position mau stabilise and hopefully omprove. At least the current leadership have not been put there solely to omplement cuts. Don’t look for fireworks – it doesn’t work like that within Go ernment – and don’t get too worked up about ‘independence’ – which has usually meant being just far away to land a really good punch on the nose – it is far better to get in close, infiltrate, get positive headlines for the politicians and probably bide your time on the head to head issues till you’ve gained credibility and support. The change in agricultural funding has to be the big opportunity – with the potential to save money witout ruining farmers through a more holidtic view of how rhe en ironment works.

    1. OK Rod I will bear all that in mind. I don’t think brood meddling will be gone until the end of the 5 year trial, unless Mark and/or RSPB win their appeal, despite the complete impracticability of it on any larger scale. I’ve never thought it could deliver meaningful improvement of HH numbers unless the shooting cabal learnt to tolerate them during the scheme ( fat chance of that from what I hear).

  5. The newcomers all seem to be very worthy and impeccable individuals. That’s a shame. I don’t imagine any of them will do much boat-rocking. What the board needs is a loose canon – someone in the mould of (dare I mention the name?) Dominic Cummings.

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