Press release

Do you want to make a difference to flood risk in the South West?

Over five million people are at risk from the devastating effects of flooding in the UK, with thousands of properties at risk in the south west.

The Environment Agency is looking for a new Chairman for the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC). Being a RFCC member is an exciting opportunity to help guide local flood and coastal management across the whole area and make a real difference to people’s lives and to the environment we live in.

The Wessex RFCC covers Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, most of Wiltshire and parts of Gloucestershire and Hampshire.

The successful applicant will play an important role in deciding on local priorities, raising local levies, approving programmes of work, and supporting us and Lead Local Flood Authorities in working with communities and other partners.

They will have a key role in balancing local priorities and making sure that investment is co-ordinated at the river catchment and shoreline scale, as well as championing the consideration of climate change impacts in local decision making.

RFCCs bring together local councillors and independent representatives to oversee a multi-million pound programme of work. As Chairman, the person will lead the way in setting strategic priorities for managing flood and coastal erosion risk in partnership with others.

To succeed in this challenging role, the person will need to bring together diverse interests and objectives with fairness to ensure this important work is done effectively while achieving value for money for the public purse. This calls for strong leadership, chairing and communication skills, plus a determined yet diplomatic approach to often difficult negotiations.

Nick Gupta, the Environment Agency’s Area Manager for Wessex, said:

We’re looking for a person who is persuasive and able to influence change, who is used to making difficult decisions, and who can make a positive difference to communities, the environment and the local economy in the face of a changing climate. Never has it been more important to bring together all those who can help reduce the risk of flooding to the thousands of people who live in the area.

In many ways the chair of this committee will be a sounding board for professional opinion – acting as an adviser and critical friend to the Agency. The person will need to understand how flood and coastal risk affects local communities, be used to operating at the highest level, and have the credibility to work closely with the public and private sectors to deliver results. This is highly satisfying work and an outstanding opportunity for a person of very high calibre.

The Government is committed to improving the diversity of the boards of public bodies so we welcome applications from people of all backgrounds irrespective of race, ethnic or national origin, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, religious beliefs or similar philosophical belief, age, gender re-assignment or community background. Defra operates a Guaranteed Interview Scheme for people with a disability.

All public appointments are based on the principle of merit.

For more information and to apply please email PublicAppts@defra.gsi.gov.uk quoting reference number PAPPT 248-14. For a confidential discussion, please contact our advisers Carol Tidmarsh on 020 7238 6332 or Siobhan Sherry on 020 7238 5273.

The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 19 September 2014. Interviews are expected to take place in the week commencing 20 October 2014.