Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd on how it stays alert in the winter

Written by Civil Service World on 30 December 2017 in Feature

With the end of 2017 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2018 – and tell us what they cannot do Christmas without

What are you most proud of achieving in 2017?

We’ve had a really successful year. In January, over 500,000 properties were protected from a coastal surge by flood defences and we are on course to deliver better protection against flooding for 300,000 homes as part of the government’s six year programme. We’ve reduced serious pollution incidents, improved water quality and enhanced habitats. We’re helping legitimate business by bringing the fight to waste criminals, this year my colleagues were closing down three illegal waste sites every day. Being part of such an incredible organisation makes me proud.

I also joined the UK Green Finance Taskforce. This year, the Environment Agency Pension Fund launched the Transition Pathway Initiative which assesses how companies’ transition to a low-carbon economy. It is supported by asset owners with over £4 trillion of assets under management who use it to inform their engagement with companies.

What was your most difficult decision in 2017?

Transferring our corporate services staff into the Defra. Many people making the move feel strongly connected to the Environment Agency. I understand this because I do too, but it offers us opportunities to be more innovative and efficient. I look forward to seeing Defra group’s unified corporate services continue to deliver great results for people and the environment. We will work to ensure that all those Environment Agency staff who are transferring still are, and still feel, part of the EA family.

What are your organisation’s top priorities for the year ahead?

Every year, protecting people from flooding is our top priority. We’re building ever better flood schemes but you can’t guarantee 100% protection from flooding. Not nearly enough people are signed up to warnings, so convincing more people to be #floodaware will be key. Sign up on gov.uk.

Halting the rising tide in waste crime is also essential. It shows no sign of slowing down. It’s a priority for our ministers too, so expect to hear more about our battle with waste criminals in 2018.

For you no Christmas holiday is complete without…

Knowing my colleagues are on call all over the country during the Christmas break to help protect our country if nature turns dangerous.

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