Natural England’s West Midlands Team provides environmental leadership in an area of 6.5 million people, covering the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Birmingham combined authority. It contains 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and covers a huge variety of landscapes, from the estuary of the Severn, through rural landscapes to thriving urban cities and the uplands of Shropshire and Welsh Borders.
Overview of role
With the growth of major infrastructure projects for water, rail and other large scale programmes and with it the demand for advice from within Natural England on nature recovery, natural solutions and connecting people with nature, we are looking for an experienced and inspiring individual with a good grounding in development planning, net gain, environmental assessment, environmental and water legislation, and an understanding of ecological threats and opportunities specifically with regard to water resources, to lead Natural England’s advice in the West Midlands and North West. The role will focus on the water companies’ Water Resource Management plans and specifically the RAPID* (Regulators Advice for progressing infrastructure development). The role holder will co-ordinate all pre-statutory advice on the Severn Water Transfer and United Utilities sources in the North West and West Midlands.
RAPID has been established to support and oversee the development of regional solutions to the challenge of ensuring water resource supplies are resilient to climate change, population growth and increasing environmental aspirations. 18 schemes are currently within the RAPID process with nine water companies who will work together to deliver this work via a formal gated process. The water companies will investigate and develop integrated strategic regional water resource solutions during 2020-2025. This will enable companies to develop solutions on behalf of customers that are ‘construction ready’ for the 2025-30 period. £469 Million has been allocated for water companies to investigate and develop proposal, which include source type solutions, such as reservoirs and effluent reuse; and transfer solutions, utilising river, canal and pipeline transfer routes.
Natural England is working with the Environment Agency (and Natural Resources Wales where applicable) through the National Assessment Unit, OFWAT and the water companies to help shape these projects. This involves reviewing the environmental assessments of supply options and providing timely, consistent and robust evidence-based recommendations to the National Assessment Unit and other key stakeholders and identifying the risks and opportunities for Natural England. There are also significant environmental opportunities to utilise natural solutions and embed nature recovery with-in these projects for the benefit of the Water Companies and customers. This role is an opportunity to shape this.
The role holder will project manage our work on RAPID and other infrastructure schemes across both the Cheshire to Lancashire, West Midlands and Cumbria area teams, reviewing specific resource options under the schemes. There is some flexibility on location, although many internal and team meetings will be held in Manchester or Crewe. The successful applicant will also be expected to travel to meetings with partners across the regions.
The role will provide a strategic overview and manage partnership relations and technical support and advice to water companies on water resources more generally. For example, you may be expected to contribute and advise on resource management plans, drainage water management plans, drought plans and River basin district management plans (RBDMP). You will ensure that our advice to water companies reflects Natural England strategic ambitions and integrates with other programmes including Natural Course Life IP and other large infrastructure projects for example HS2 and will ensure the work is embedded and communicated in both teams. You will also help to develop the skills of others in the team and support other infrastructure projects as required.
The role holder may also provide NE advice on other infrastructure projects such as rail (HS2), road and pipeline projects depending on capacity and ongoing progression of RAPID
Key tasks/principal accountabilities
Lead the delivery of our Water Company Discretionary Advice Project and other major infrastructure projects where needed. Oversee and deliver technical advice to Water Companies with regard the Water Resource Management plans and specifically advice on the Strategic Regional Options Appraisals as part of the RAPID scheme.
• Have a strong understanding of our statutory responsibilities and processes, including legislation and governance frameworks.
• Have an excellent understanding of the development planning process and how this applies to large infrastructure projects.
• Understand the Environmental Assessment process and the context of how this would be applied including Habitats Regulations Assessment. Also understand the significance of SSSI, and WFD, principles and approaches when giving advice on infrastructure projects.
• Understand the role of strategic planning solutions to the outcomes that we seek and how proposals can contribute to enhancing natural capital through delivering Net Gain and Green Infrastructure
• Excellent project management skills (with a dispersed team), and proven ability to make decisions based on environmental outcomes.
• Good understanding of how water interacts with the surrounding landscape and habitats e.g. through hydrological linkages at a site-specific level and a landscape scale and apply this to delivering technical advice to water companies.
• Ability to identify how significant proposals can impact protected features for example through source, receptor, pathway approaches and specifically apply this knowledge to water resources infrastructure.
Putting people at the heart of the environment [Expert]
• Develop an understanding of the objectives and needs of our partners and customer
• Build relationships and effective networks both internally and externally to bring fresh perspectives, approaches and evidence to Natural England and support our specialist interests
Personal effectiveness – [expert]
• Be ambitious, identify and adopt ways to make improvements in your team and Natural England and inspire others to act
• Be decisive, combine your professional judgement with evidence to inform your decision-making
• Adapt your style, content and approach to communicate effectively with different audiences and across different media
Work delivery [Expert]
• Interrogate, process and present data / evidence to enable further analysis
• See the big picture and organisational strategy so you can set your team’s work within the context of the wider organisation and beyond, and help team members to understand how their work relates and supports this
Leading People – [Practitioner]
• Encourage, inspire and support people to be ambitious, creative and innovative, and to reflect, celebrate and learn lessons from their work
• Train, coach and mentor others to increase their capability to deliver the Conservation Strategy and increase the organisation’s technical skill and capability
ResponsibilitiesPlease refer to Job Description
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension
Things you need to know
Selection process details
Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.