Environment Agency names Treasury DG as chief exec

Philip Duffy will succeed James Bevan at Horizon House from July
Philip Duffy

By Jim Dunton

17 Mar 2023

The Environment Agency has appointed HM Treasury director general Philip Duffy as its new chief executive.

Duffy will start at the EA in July, where he will succeed current chief exec Sir James Bevan at the helm of the organisation’s Horizon House headquarters in Bristol.

Bevan is due to step down as chief executive at the end of this month. EA executive director for local operations John Curtin will be interim chief exec until July.

Duffy joined the Treasury in 2017 after serving as chief operating officer of Border Force. He is currently DG for growth and productivity, leading the Treasury’s work on the environment, transport, productivity, business support and culture.

EA chair Alan Lovell said the organisation was “very excited” Duffy would be joining as chief exec in the summer.

“As climate change and population growth increase the pressures on England’s precious resources, we have a vital role delivering for people, nature and the economy,” he said.

“Philip brings considerable experience from the Treasury and will head up a truly excellent executive team.”

Lovell also expressed thanks to Bevan for his leadership over the past seven years.

Duffy said he was delighted to be taking on leadership of the agency at a time when its mission to protect and enhance the environment and support sustainable development had “never been more critical”.

“The agency can be proud of its record,” Duffy said. “And as it approaches its 30th anniversary, I look forward to hearing from all sides about what should come next, and what more the agency could do to make this the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited.”

In recent months EA chief exec Bevan has been increasingly vocal about the need to increase pay for the organisation’s 10,600 staff.

In a strongly-worded letter to then environment secretary George Eustice last summer, Bevan called for a rethink of the government’s pay-remit guidance for civil servants. He said limiting rises to 2%-3% as the remit required was “unjust, unwise and unfair”.

This week Bevan told members of parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee that EA staff pay had not reflected the cost of living for a decade and that the organisation was struggling to recruit as a result.

“The net effect of that has been that people are significantly poorer than they were and... some people can no longer afford to work for us,” he said.

Thousands members of the Unison and Prospect unions who work at the agency have taken strike action over pay in recent weeks.

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