See job eligibility requirements: Water Emergency Response Team Leader

U.K. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Bristol, UK 🇬🇧

London, UK 🇬🇧

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 🇬🇧

York, UK 🇬🇧

Reference number



£49,403 – £61,392

National pay £49,403 – £55,823 London £54,328 – £61,392 For details of our pay on appointment policy, please see below under the heading ‘Salary’.

Civil Service Pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Job grade

Grade 7

Contract type


Business area

DEFRA – Environment – Water & Flood Management

Type of role


Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share

Number of jobs available



Bristol, London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York

About the job

Job summary

Are you looking for new challenge in a high-profile emergency response environment?

Have you ever wondered who makes sure that water keeps coming out of your taps?

A resilient supply of fresh drinking water is essential for every citizen, business and for the environment. This is an exciting leadership opportunity to join Defra’s CBRN, Water and Floods Emergency Division to help make the water system in England resilient against a growing and diverse range of threats and hazards. These range from extreme weather to supply chain crises through to terrorism and cyber-attacks. 

The role is based in Defra, which is the Lead Government Department for the Water Sector, including responsibilities for water as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sector.

This is a demanding G7 leadership role offers an opportunity for an experienced resilience professional to make a tangible impact and act as a springboard for promotion (the previous incumbent was promoted to G6).  

You will lead the emergency response to serious water supply emergencies which require national level interventions. This involves leading emergencies on a frequent basis and building the Department’s operational response capability.

Our important mission involves working closely with resilience teams across government in departments like the COBR Unit and the National Cyber Security Centre, Resilience and Emergency teams in the water sector, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and Government Ministers. 

Job description

The main duties of the roles are:

  • Build the Department’s capability to respond to water supply disruption through robust response plans that are regularly tested.
  • Lead the emergency response to water supply disruptions. For significant incidents this will involve working closely with the Cabinet Office’s emergency response framework, including COBR.
  • Manage and build the capability water operations team to successfully deliver in a fast pace, complex and sensitive area.
  • Lead short-term contingency planning work to assess current and emerging risks to the sector.
  • Lead on the review and continuous assessment of relevant risks which form part of the National Security Risk Assessment.
  • Supporting the department’s response to other risks including flooding and recovering from CBRN incidents.
  • Develop and sustain influential relationships with operational leads in the water companies and across HMG.

The response nature of the role means there will occasionally be a requirement to work unsociable hours. All team members are expected to support Defra’s role as lead government department for water supply in an emergency, and you may also be asked to support the wider emergency team in the event of a national flood or Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear incident. You will therefore be expected to join colleagues on an emergency duty phone roster and when on duty will be paid an allowance. This equates to around one week in every 6-8.

The role requires a presence in London for Ministerial briefings, attending CONR meetings and other activities and an ability to travel to York and Bristol (where some of the team are based) approx. once per month.

We are a supportive and friendly place to work and have a very active approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to recruiting and supporting colleagues from underrepresented backgrounds and with diverse needs, especially colleague who identify as disabled, LGBTQI+, from minority ethnic groups or lower social economic backgrounds and those with caring responsibilities.

Person specification

You will need to demonstrate the following as part of your application: 

I). Previous Experience: Significant experience of working in and leading emergency responses. Confidence in briefing senior officials and Ministers at short notice during emergency situations.

II). Behaviour: Leadership: A strong track record of successfully leading and delivering complex work programmes to tight timescales. Strong evidence of commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and building the capability of their teams and self.

III). Delivery at Pace: Confidence with analysing issues at pace, including when the data is lacking or ever changing, to develop accurate and pragmatic solutions that maintain critical services. Be able to work under time pressure, and support team(s) to do likewise.

IV). Making Effective Decisions: Able to navigate complexity and ambiguity in order to identify the critical issues to resolve problems and successfully prioritise the key lines of action.  Be confident using data to make and justify decisions. 

V). Communicating and Influencing: Experienced and confidence with digesting and explaining technical details to a non-technical audience clearly and with confidence. Be able to deliver and hold difficult lines with industry stakeholders.

VI). Seeing the Bigger Picture: A strong record of understanding the wider context of the resilience landscape and implications for the water sector and Defra. Have the strategic dexterity to balance multiple issues and successfully manage risk.


We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Delivering at Pace
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Leadership

We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:

  • Delivering at Pace


Alongside your salary of £49,403, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs contributes £13,338 towards you being a member of the Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension scheme. Find out what benefits a Civil Service Pension provides.

  • Learning and development tailored to your role
  • An environment with flexible working options
  • A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
  • Civil Service pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Things you need to know

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles (opens in a new window), and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.

Application Process 

As part of the application process you are asked to complete a CV, Personal Statement and Behaviour Statement.

Your Personal Statement should be no more than 500 words and tell us about the experience you have the experience to match the key responsibilities and personal specification. 

Please complete a statement on the lead Behaviour: Delivering at Pace (250 word max)

Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.


Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the Lead Behaviour: Delivering at Pace.

Sift and interview dates to be confirmed. 


If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed against your Experience, Behaviours and Strengths.

A presentation will also be assessed for the following: Candidates will be asked to evidence their experience of seeing the big picture, specifically your ability to identify strategic challenges facing the sector. 

Candidates will be asked to attend an interview, likely arranged via Microsoft Teams.


Please be aware that this role(s) will be contractually based in a Defra group workplace/office. The successful candidate is required to carry out all their duties from a UK location, and cannot do so from an overseas location at any time.

Candidates applying for these roles will be based at one of the Defra hubs as advertised.  

For information, our core Defra hub locations are:

  • York – the Kings Pool;
  • Newcastle – Lancaster House; 
  • Bristol – Horizon House (Please note that space at this office is limited and it may not be possible for all Policy roles to be recruited to this location); 
  • London – 2 Marsham Street. 

Internal (core Defra) employees can apply for this role and choose to remain in their current location or to be based in one of the advertised locations.

All other applicants will be based in one of the advertised locations.

Defra continues to support a blended working model and candidates are currently expected to attend their office base  for 40-60% of the week.

Travel and subsistence will not be paid for travel to a base office location.

Reserve List

A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

Merit Lists

Where more than one location is advertised, candidates will be posted in merit order by location. You will be asked to state your location preference on your application.


New entrants to the Civil Service are expected to start on the minimum of the pay band. The internal roles rules apply to existing Civil Servants, i.e. level transfers move on current salary or the pay range minimum, transfers on promotion move to new pay range minimum or receive 10% increase. Either case is determined by whichever is the highest.

Visa Sponsorship Statement

Please take note that Defra does not hold a UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) Skilled Worker License sponsor and are unable to sponsor any individuals for Skilled Worker Sponsorship.

Reasonable Adjustment

If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes. 

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should: 

  • Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs.
  • Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.


If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the ‘Contact point for applicants’ section.

Criminal Record Check

If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check may be carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstances some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing stating the job reference number in the subject heading. 

Internal Fraud Database Check

Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

A candidate is not eligible to apply for a role within the Civil Service if the application is made within a 5-year period following a dismissal for carrying out internal fraud against government.


The successful candidate ideally will already have DV clearance or, if they do not, they must be willing to obtain DV clearance once in post. Security vetting will only take place after the receipt of a job offer Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Childcare Vouchers 

Any move to Defra from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.


Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.

Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is developed vetting (opens in a new window).

See our vetting charter (opens in a new window).

People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
  • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles (opens in a new window).

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

The Civil Service also offers a Redeployment Interview Scheme to civil servants who are at risk of redundancy, and who meet the minimum requirements for the advertised vacancy.

Apply and further information

This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans (opens in a new window) initiative.

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment (opens in new window).

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :

  • Name :Chris Thompstone
  • Email

Recruitment team

  • Email

Further information

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact:
Government Recruitment Services via email:

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission.




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