Environment Agency chairman resigns after heavy criticism

Environment Agency (EA) chairman Sir Philip Dilley has today (11 January) stepped down from his post, after being heavily criticised for being on holiday in Barbados while severe flooding affected much of the country.

Current deputy chairman Emma Howard Boyd has agreed to become acting chairman with immediate effect and will lead the board in holding the agency to account.

The EA said it will begin the task of recruiting a permanent replacement “in due course”.

Dilley said his reason for resigning was that “the expectations of the role have expanded to require the chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover”.

“In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver,” he said in a statement. He emphasised that he is “well-qualified” to carry out the role, and had “much to contribute”.

“Furthermore the media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable,” Dilley added.

“I want to be clear that I have not made any untrue or misleading statements, apart from approving the statement about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer.”

Commenting on the news, Environment secretary Liz Truss said: “Today I have accepted Sir Philip Dilley’s resignation and I would like to thank him for his work as chairman of the Environment Agency.

“He has ably led the Environment Agency through some challenging times and leaves it a much better organisation, as shown in its excellent response to the recent flooding which saw staff working around the clock to protect and help thousands of people across the country.

“It is important that the Environment Agency continues to have a strong leadership team and its chief executive Sir James Bevan will continue his excellent work heading up the operational and day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Lois Vallely

This article first appeared in edie’s sister title Utility Week

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