Members of the Prospect union at Natural England have voted to take industrial action over pay.
Prospect recorded a 76% voted in favour of a strike and 84.7% for action short of strike.
It said industrial action is planned for 4 January 2022 with action short of strike, to be escalated to a strike if no progress is made.
Prospect said that since 2010, Natural England staff had a pay freeze for two years then a 1% pay cap for five years.
Following a brief improvement, the government’s renewed freeze on public sector pay this year meant they had lost significant real terms pay over the past decade.
It gave the example of a lead advisor who started at Natural England in 2010 who would have since seen their real pay decline by 12% or around £5,000.
There was also a 6.31% equal pay gap at manager/principal level, the union said.
Prospect said 47% of staff reported having felt unwell in the past year as a result of work-related stress in Natural England’s own staff survey.
General secretary Mike Clancy said: “Prospect members at Natural England have been left with no option but to vote for industrial action.
“Protecting the environment is not just a job to them – it is their calling – but they can’t continue to do it on a shoestring, with stagnating wages and heavy workloads.”
Clancy said the government’s post-Cop26 statements about taking the environment seriously should come with more funding for the environmental agencies and proper pay for experts.
CSW has contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for comment.