Environment Agency appoints Interserve boss Alan Lovell as new chair

Image: Defra

Lovell’s appointment was confirmed this afternoon (19 July), after he was first confirmed to be the preferred candidate for the role in late July. He will be replacing Howard-Boyd after her six-year tenure as chair. In total, Howard-Boyd has served some 12 years on the EA’s board.

Howard-Boyd said it has been a “privilege” to serve as EA chair and stated that she believes Lovell ahs a “wealth of experience” making him suited to succeed her.

Lovell has experience chairing both commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. In the commercial space, he is currently chairman at construction and support services conglomerate Interserve Group, where he was brought in in 2019 as the firm entered administration. The Group went into compulsory liquidation earlier this year and is expected to be wound up in 2024.

Lovell has also held leadership roles at door and window supplier Safestyle, building products supplier SIG Plc, services giant Carillion and several other firms, with expertise in intervening in failing firms. He also has experience in the green economy directly, serving as chair at renewable energy technology company Progressive Energy at present and having previously headed up anaerobic digestion firm Tamar Energy.

Regarding his experience leading a Government agency, Lovell served as the Consumer Council for Water’s chair from 2015 to 2019. The Council is an arm’s length body of the Government, supporting consumer interests in the water sector.

Pre-appointment documents for Lovell state that he has “relevant corporate and institutional experience and an appropriate grasp of the priorities for his proposed tenure”. Nonetheless, some concern was voiced. The documents state: “We were surprised that he had not come to more fully researched and formed views on some of the key environmental issues and challenges facing the EA”.

The documents were produced by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committees (EFRA) of MPs. Concerns have repeatedly been raised by these committees about whether the EA has sufficient funding, resources and powers to carry out its remits in the first instance – let alone as the UK sets more ambitious environmental targets and begins backing them up with more regulation and legislation.

Lovell will stand down as Progressive Energy chair on 30 June and will formally begin in post at the EA in September.

He said: “It is a great honour to be appointed as EA chair.  This is a vital organisation, full of excellent committed people striving to do their best for the nation’s flood defences, for the environment as a whole, and in the battle against climate change. It will be a privilege to join them and to try to make a difference.”

edie recently attended the Aldersgate Group’s 2022 annual briefing, where Howard-Boyd gave her last public speech as EA chair. Click here to listen to her speech and read a brief summary.

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