Press release

New Permanent Secretary for Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Bronwyn Hill appointed as the new Permanent Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, is pleased to announce the appointment of Bronwyn Hill as the new Permanent Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Bronwyn, who is currently Director General, Major Projects and London, at the Department for Transport, was chosen following an open competition. This follows Helen Ghosh’s move to become Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. The appointment has been approved by the Prime Minister and by the Secretary of State for the Department, the Rt  Hon Caroline Spelman MP.

Bronwyn will take up post on 28 March 2011.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, said:

“I am delighted that Bronwyn has been appointed as the new Permanent Secretary at Defra.  Bronwyn brings a wealth of experience in Government in complex and high profile policy areas.  She is also an excellent leader, and her appointment will ensure that Defra is very capably led through the changes ahead.

“I would also like to thank Peter Unwin for his work as Acting Permanent Secretary since the beginning of 2011, guiding the Department through this transitional period.”

Commenting on her new role, Bronwyn Hill said:

“I am delighted to have been asked to join a Department which puts the environment at the heart of everything it does.

“DEFRA has a vital role to play, both nationally and internationally, in actions to improve the quality of life for everyone in this country and I look forward to leading the Department in that work through the challenges ahead.”

The Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman, said:

“I am very pleased to welcome Bronwyn to be our new Permanent Secretary at Defra. Bronwyn joins us at a time when we are taking forward a number of high priorities for the Government at home and internationally: to improve the quality of our environment and tackle biodiversity loss, support British farming and food production, and to promote sustainable growth in our economy.

“I very much look forward to working with Bronwyn as Defra plays its part in helping deliver a greener, more transparent, pro-growth government.”

“I’d also like to thank Peter Unwin for all his work and support during this period of transition, and reiterate my thanks to Helen Ghosh for helping to make Defra the resilient and forward thinking department it is today.”


Bronwyn was previously Director General, Major Projects and London at the Department for Transport, responsible for transport’s contribution to the 2012 Olympics and for major projects to support economic growth, including Crossrail.  Prior to that, as Director General, City and Regional Networks at Transport, she was responsible for funding and policy on local transport and Transport for London, with expenditure of £6bn a year.

From 2005 to 2007 she was Regional Director at the Government Office for the South West where she was the lead Regional Director for Defra.  Bronwyn was awarded the CBE for services to transport in 2001 after a career which involved work on European aviation issues, road safety and green transport.

Published 3 March 2011