Dr Leinster has been acting chief exec since the departure of Barbara Young in the summer and the official appointment marks the end of five months in the caretaker role.

He will be taking up the post from November 1.

Dr Leinster brings a wealth of experience to the role, joining the Environment Agency in 1998.

He had previously held the roles of Director of Environmental Protection and Director of Operations.

He has over 30 years’ experience working in the health and safety environmental field, in both the public and private sectors.

Announcing the appointment, Environment Agency chairman, Lord Chris Smith, said: “I’m thrilled that Paul and I will be working together to ensure that the Environment Agency continues to work successfully for people and the environment.

“We face a defining moment in our history and our actions now will determine the environmental impact of climate change for future generations.

“Now is the time for bold decisions to protect our land, air and water.

“Throughout his time at the Environment Agency, Paul Leinster has consistently shown himself to have the skills and experience needed to ensure the Environment Agency can meet the challenges we face and create a better place.”

Dr Leinster said he was delighted to be heading up the agency at such an important time.

“We have achieved much for people and the environment in the last decade and are well placed to face the challenges of the future.

“We will ensure that we maintain the focus of business and the public on environmental protection and climate change, even in a difficult financial climate, and provide a more effective, efficient service through better regulation.

“Expectation levels about the environment are higher than ever before. We have many big challenges to address including flooding, pollution, water quality and resources, waste and climate change and will use our expertise, experience and influence to deliver the necessary changes.

“And we will continue to do so by cutting bureaucracy and maximising the environmental improvements for every pound we spend.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie