Environment Agency deputy moves into chairman’s post

The current deputy chair of the Environment Agency (EA) for England and Wales will move into the post of chair in the New Year. Controversial chairman Lord de Ramsey will step down and Sir John Harman will take over.

Harman, 49, is leader of the Regional Assembly for Yorkshire and Humberside and has been a member of the EA board since 1995. Commenting on his appointment, Harman said he would like the EA to “contribute to the development of tax incentives to drive environmental performance” and to develop preventive measures fully. “When the Agency as regulator decides to prosecute it is because damage has already been done- sometimes irreparably – to the environment,” said Harman.

Ironically, alleged damage to the environment is what outgoing EA chair Lord de Ramsey became known for. His retirement announcement was welcomed by environmental groups that believe Lord de Ramsey is far from committed to environmental progress (see related story). Tales of GM test crops and greenfield housing development on land owned by de Ramsey as well as excessive use of a chauffeur-driven car did nothing for the chair’s ‘green’ reputation. Then, in November an EA case against Worlick Farm Ltd, of which de Ramsey is a director, resulted in a £5,000 fine for excessive water abstraction. The EA stated that approximately 3.7 million gallons (16.8 million litres) of water were abstracted over and above licensed amounts.

Incoming chair Harman has indicated that he will step down from the Regional Assembly for Yorkshire and Humberside as well as from his position on Kirkless Metropolitan Council to devote his energies to EA work.

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