Senior Policy Advisor, Environment and Planning
Government Recruitment Service
London, GB
1d ago
source : GOV.UK

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy.

As well as being at the heart of the government’s plans to support a green and fair recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, Defra continues to deliver an ambitious agenda, setting global standards in protecting and enhancing our natural environment for future generations.

The Government is committed to becoming the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than it found it, and the 25 Year Plan for the Environment sets out the policies we will introduce to achieve this ambitious objective.

Our plans, in Defra’s Land Use division, go hand in hand with the Government’s commitment to deliver the homes and commercial development this country needs, by putting the environment at the heart of the planning process.

The Defra group proudly supports flexible working. The majority of our roles are based in our policy hubs in York, Bristol and London and you may be able to work in a different Defra office.

You will need to agree your location and working arrangements in advance of taking up post.

Job description

Candidates that pass the interview with the 4 highest scores will be offered Permanent contracts and the candidates that pass the interview with the next 2 lower scores will be offered Fixed Term Appointment contracts for 2 Years..

Based in Defra’s Environment Strategy Directorate, these are exciting roles within an important policy area. They will focus on land use policy, including planning for the environment in relation to :

  • Building and maintaining relations with our delivery bodies, Local Government and other stakeholders at the local level;
  • Developing policy and legislation to reform the system of environmental planning;
  • Developing policy, planning and legislation to support the implementation of the Environment Bill including mandatory biodiversity net gain and local nature recovery strategies;
  • Leading on policy development for wider planning changes, responding to reactive planning issues and wider environmental regulations and / or;
  • Developing and supporting strategy linked to reform of land use and the natural environment.
  • The roles will work closely with others in Defra group, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and other key stakeholders including Local Authorities, environmental organisations and the development sector to ensure that policy and legislation takes account of best practice and works effectively within the planning system.

    We are looking to fill roles working on Local Nature Recovery Networks, Biodiversity Net Gain, and environmental planning reform but other opportunities may arise across land use.

    For some roles, we are specifically seeking candidates who can demonstrate professional experience of working on planning issues and / or dealing with environmental requirements in planning, as well as experience of using / applying planning legislation.

    These skills are not required for all the roles.

    If you have these skills, or other areas of expertise relevant to the Land Use teams in Defra, applications will be welcomed from any candidates who can demonstrate that they meet the essential selection criteria (behaviours) for the role.


  • Provide advice, drawing on own knowledge of the planning system as well as engagement within the sector, on policy and legislative options to support the most effective delivery of the Government’s objectives for planning and environment policy.
  • Leading policy development relating to land use areas and co-ordinating work effectively across Defra, and in the ALBs, to ensure policy development reflects the wider departmental aims.
  • Engage proactively with MHCLG, as well as external partners where appropriate, to ensure approaches draw on best practice, are deliverable within the planning system, and take account of ongoing reforms to planning policy and practice.
  • Work closely with Defra legal, and other Defra policy teams, to ensure policy and legislation is legally sound and consistent with wider policy objectives.
  • Engaging confidently and representing the team across Whitehall, ensuring the policy position is accurately set out and negotiating on issues that arise
  • Support the Parliamentary handling of any legislation required by developing an understanding of the legislative processes, drafting high quality legislative products, and provide briefing as required to Ministers and senior officials, often to tight timescales.
  • Implementation planning and delivery of local nature recovery strategies following Royal Asset of the Environment Bill and overseeing the delivery of the 5 local nature recovery strategy pilots.
  • Candidates will be tested against the following criteria at interview :

  • Making Effective Decisions - Use evidence and knowledge to support accurate, expert decisions and advice. Carefully consider alternative options, implications and risks of decisions.
  • Delivering at Pace - Take responsibility for delivering timely and quality results with focus and drive.
  • Seeing the Bigger Picture - Understand how your role fits with and supports organisational objectives.
  • Working together - Form effective partnerships and relationships with people both internally and externally, from a range of diverse backgrounds, sharing information, resources and support.
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