Natural England’s longest serving chair retires

Andrew Sells retires as chair of Natural England (who are part of the Sustain alliance) after 5 years in the position.

English coastline. Photo credit: Pixabay

English coastline. Photo credit: Pixabay

Upon his retirement Andrew Sells paid tribute to his colleagues and partners: “It has been a huge privilege to serve as Chair of Natural England. Protecting and enhancing the natural environment has been a considerable challenge, especially in a difficult financial climate, but I am very proud to have given it my best.”

Appointed in January 2014, Andrew Sells is the third Chair of Natural England and the longest serving in its 12-year history. Sir Martin Doughty was Chair from 2006 to 2009 and Poul Christensen from 2009 to 2013.

During his tenure Natural England has:

  • Adopted a conservation strategy – Conservation 21 – to guide its work in creating resilient landscapes and seas, growing natural capital and putting people at the heart of nature
  • Shaped the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, particularly in areas such as Nature Recovery Networks and Net Gain, and is now leading on delivery
  • Provided the science and evidence that underpins a “Blue Belt” of marine conservation zones around our coast
  • Progressed the 2,700-mile England Coast Path to the point where every stretch is now open or being worked on
  • Designated the largest Site of Special Scientific Interest in the last 14 years – the 76 sq km West Pennine Moors – and defended others from development, notably Lodge Hill in Kent and Rampisham Down in Dorset
  • Licensed the trial release of beavers – the first to live wild in England for 300 years

Farming Minister George Eustice paid tribute to Sells’s “excellent” work:

“He has been a tireless champion of the nation’s environment, helping Natural England, its staff and partners across the country to protect and enhance our shared natural heritage for generations to come.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is leading the recruitment of a new Chair and an announcement is expected shortly. Lord Blencathra will chair the Board in the interim.


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