About us

We provide expert independent advice on science policy and strategy to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


The Science Advisory Council (SAC) is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) which provides independent and scientific support, advice and challenge to Defra. The SAC will assist the Defra Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) assuring and challenging the evidence that Defra uses in its policy development.

Major topics that have been discussed in the past are:

  • the Environmental Land Management Scheme and its three tiers
  • animal exotic diseases
  • social science
  • the Terrestrial and Marine Natural Capital programmes
  • gene editing


The objectives of the SAC are to:

  • advise and support Defra on developing and implementing an effective and efficient strategy for obtaining and using evidence and scientific advice
  • advise on and provide assurance on the process for evidence gathering
  • provide strategic oversight and assurance on how evidence is used in policy, providing targeted support where necessary
  • provide constructive challenge on Defra’s evidence
  • identify sources of additional expert external advice to input to Defra evidence

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