A joint triennial review of the Environment Agency and Natural England starts today.
The review will provide an opportunity to look at what functions the Environment Agency and Natural England carry out and how they do it. Its aim is to ensure that we have sufficiently strong and resilient delivery bodies to meet our environmental ambitions. It will also be used to explore innovative options for improvements in service delivery and efficiency.
Defra has been working closely with both organisations and their stakeholders since the summer to help prepare for and inform the Review.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said:
"The Environment Agency and Natural England are both vital in helping to achieve our vision of a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Improving our environment for future generations is one of the great challenges we face as a society and we are committed to the highest levels of environmental protection.The review is part of a rolling programme across Government to examine non-departmental delivery bodies every three years. The Environment Agency and Natural England have been reviewed separately in the past.
"This review gives us the chance to take a fresh look at what these bodies do and how they do it in working towards this aim.
"I want to capture the ideas of the people and groups who do so much for our environment about changes that would lead to better results for the environment, economic growth and for people right across England."
Defra will ensure that the review is conducted in a timely and focussed way, allowing the Environment Agency and Natural England to maintain their usual business, taking into account the essential environmental work of these two organisations.
A group chaired by Dame Deirdre Hutton will rigorously and robustly test the assumptions and conclusions of the review. Dame Deirdre is currently Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority and brings wide experience of working in public bodies.
Defra has published a discussion paper setting out a broad range of possible reforms to the current delivery arrangements, ranging from keeping the structural arrangements of the agencies as they are to having the work of Environment Agency and Natural England carried out by a single organisation. Views and supporting evidence are requested by 4 February 2013.
Preliminary conclusions will be published in the spring.
The review documents can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/review-ea-ne/