Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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|Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs
|Preceding agencies||Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
|Headquarters||Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London
|Annual budget||£2.2 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011-12 |
|Minister responsible||Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
|Department executive||Bronwyn Hill, Permanent Secretary|
|Child agencies||Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency
Food and Environment Research Agency
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
Rural Payments Agency
Veterinary Medicines Directorate
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom. Concordats set out agreed frameworks for co-operation between it and the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive, which have devolved responsibilities for these matters in their respective nations. Defra also leads for Britain at the EU on agricultural, fisheries and environment matters and in other international negotiations on sustainable development and climate change, although a new Department of Energy and Climate Change was created on 3 October 2008 to take over the last responsibility. DEFRA has recently been involved in trial badger culls in two areas of England, North Somerset and Gloucestershire. There has been vociferous opposition to this, including the largest ever e-petition, with over 300,000 signatures. DEFRA's own scientific report, following a Randomised Badger Culling Trial in 2007 came to the conclusion that "After careful consideration of all the RBCT and other data presented in this report, including an economic assessment, we conclude that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain." Nevertheless, DEFRA and Natural England have gone ahead with the cull, attempting to kill over 70% of the badger population, by free shooting, at night. This approach has not been successful, yet they have extended the cull period in both areas. DEFRA also came to the conclusion in the RBCT that "culling should be for no more than six consecutive weeks" and yet they have extended the period to over twice that. There has been great concern that the official figures are not accurate. Recently, the environment minister Owen Paterson has been ridiculed for suggesting that, when the numbers killed did not meet expectations, the badgers had "moved the goalposts".
As of the reshuffle of 7 October 2013, the department has not had a Minister of State following the return of David Heath to the backbenches, his replacement Dan Rogerson only having the rank of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.
It was formed in June 2001 under the leadership of Margaret Beckett, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was merged with part of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and with a small part of the Home Office. The department was created after the perceived failure of MAFF to deal adequately with an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. The Department had about 9 000 core personnel, as of January 2008[update]. The Department's main building is Nobel House on Smith Square, SW1.
In October 2008, the climate team at Defra was merged with the energy team from the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to create the Department of Energy and Climate Change, then headed by Ed Miliband.
The Defra Ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP||Secretary of State||Strategy and overall responsibility for departmental policy; Budget and finances; Legislative programme; Emergencies; EU and international relations; Environment Agency and Natural England|
|Dan Rogerson MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management||Water, Resource and Environmental Management, Rural Affairs and Forestry.|
|George Eustice MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs
Minister for Flooding
|Natural Environment; Water and Marine (inc Fisheries); Farming and Food, Marine and Fisheries, and Animal Health; Departmental Administration|
|Lord de Mauley||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Resource Management, the Local Environment and Environmental Science||All departmental business in the House of Lords; Resource Management; Local Environment; Science and research|
Defra is responsible for British Government policy in the following areas
- Adaptation to global warming
- Air quality
- Animal health and animal welfare
- Chemicals and pesticides
- Inland waterways
- Land management
- Marine policy
- National parks
- Plant health
- Rural development
- Sustainable development
- Waste management
- Water management
- Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (formed on 1 April 2011 by a merger of Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Animal Health had launched on 2 April 2007 and was formerly the State Veterinary Service)
- Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
- Food and Environment Research Agency (until April 2009 was called the Central Science Laboratory)
- Rural Payments Agency
- Veterinary Medicines Directorate
Key delivery partners
The department's key delivery partners are:
- Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
- Commission for Rural Communities
- Consumer Council for Water
- Environment Agency
- Forestry Commission (a non-ministerial government department including Forest Enterprise and Forest Research)
- Gangmasters Licensing Authority
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- Marine Management Organisation (launched on 1 April 2010, incorporates the former Marine and Fisheries Agency)
- National Forest Company
- Natural England (launched on 11 October 2006, formerly English Nature and elements of the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service)
- Ofwat (a non-ministerial government department formally known as the Water Services Regulation Authority)
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
- Sea Fish Industry Authority
A full list of departmental delivery and public bodies may be found on the Defra website.
Defra in the English regions
Policies for environment, food and rural affairs are delivered in the regions by Defra's executive agencies and delivery bodies, in particular Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency, Animal Health and the Marine Management Organisation.
Defra provides grant aid to the following flood and coastal erosion risk management operating authorities:
Aim and strategic priorities
Defra's overarching aim is sustainable development, which is defined as "development which enables all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations." The Secretary of State wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister that he saw Defra’s mission as enabling a move toward what the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called "one planet living".
Under this overarching aim, Defra has five strategic priorities:
- Climate change and energy.
- Sustainable consumption and production, including responsibility for the National Waste Strategy.
- Protecting the countryside and natural resource protection.
- Sustainable rural communities.
- A sustainable farming and food sector including animal health and welfare.
- Cattle Health Initiative
- Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland)
- Energy policy in the United Kingdom
- Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
- Environmental contract
- List of atmospheric dispersion models
- National Bee Unit
- National Collection of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria
- New Technologies Demonstrator Programme
- Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department
- UK Dispersion Modelling Bureau
- United Kingdom budget
- Waste Implementation Programme
- Budget 2011. London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive".
- "Concordat between MAFF and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales".
- "Devolution: Subject specific Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive on fisheries".
- "Heath shuffled aside to make way for more Lib Dems".
- "Defra departmental report".
- Harrabin, Roger (3 October 2008). "Marrying energy demand and supply". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
- "Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs". Cabinetoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
- "New Environment Secretary, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State appointed". Defra.gov.uk. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- New Permanent Secretary for Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Defra
- "Cabinet Office List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010". Cabinetoffice.gov.uk. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "List of ministerial responsibilities (including Executive Agencies and Non-Ministerial Departments)" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "DEFRA Agencies shake-up", news release by DEFRA, 29 June 2010 (from the DEFRA website)
- "Launch of Animal Health", news release by Animal Health, 2 April 2007 (from the Defra website)
- "Working with others: Defra's delivery partners", Chapter 6, Departmental Report 2006 (from the Defra website)
- "Marine Management Organisation established", press release by Defra, 1 April 2010 (from the Defra website.
- "New champion for the environment launches", press release by Natural England, 11 October 2006 (from the Natural England website)
- "Delivery Landscape Map".
- "My priorities for Defra", David Miliband's letter to the Prime Minister, 11 July 2006
- "Delivering the Essentials of Life: Defra’s Five Year Strategy", Annex B
- Defra's official website
- Fera - Executive agency of DEFRA
- National Collection of PLant Pathogenic Bacteria - Fera
- English Nature's website
- JNCC's website
- Defra's wiki for formulating an environmental contract