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Senior Specialist - Air and Environmental Quality

Posted: 29 Oct 2019 Closes: 15 Nov 2019
East Midlands, Eastern, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber £30,875
Fixed term & Full time defra/20191029170032

This position is based nationally

This post is a one-year fixed term role, based within Natural England's national Specialist Services and Programmes team (SSP). These roles will involve working with colleagues in other local and national teams as well as Defra, Local Authorities, Devolved Administrations and other external partners such as EA, JNCC, NFU, Plantlife, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and other researchers.

The Defra 25 Year Environment Plan and Clean Air Strategy includes a policy priority for cleaner air, to improve health, drive growth, and protect the environment. Government has signed up to challenging targets for five air pollutants under the revised National Ceilings Emissions Directive, including ammonia and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Competence 1
Professional competency

Building partnerships – Expert


• Contribute effectively to cross-team thought leadership through leading or participating in specialist networks and more informal methods.
• Share knowledge and information, building your networks and increasing your understanding.

Competence 2
Professional competency

Collecting, monitoring and analysing data and evidence – Expert


• Interpret, evaluate and use evidence to inform your decision-making.
• Identify priority evidence needs and seek ways to meet them (e.g. through funding or partnerships).
• Keep up to date with current evidence and research and integrate this into your work.

Competence 3
Professional competency

Providing leadership - Expert


• Display thought leadership on Natural England's behalf through external collaboration within the Defra family and with other partners and academics.
• Identify new issues and new developments through awareness and horizon scanning and share these with relevant people.
• Train, coach and mentor others in Natural England and key players externally.

Competence 4
Professional competency

Personal effectiveness – Expert


• Develop and display interpretive, analytical and problem-solving skills.
• Develop and display independence and initiative, including the ability to test and challenge others in a constructive and evidence-based way.
• Show effective time management and prioritisation skills.

Competence 5
Professional competency

Communicating effectively – Expert


• Use clear and appropriate language, communication styles and techniques that engage your audience.

Competence 6
Professional competency

Technical knowledge and specialist skills:


• Higher Degree in a relevant discipline or equivalent level of applied experience. Applicants that do not hold the required degrees should specify experience and outputs that they have produced that demonstrate that they have an equivalent level of knowledge.
• Thorough knowledge and experience of the effects of air quality and preferably also pesticides and toxic substances on wildlife and habitats and risk assessment approaches, in order to act as a credible national specialist to advise Natural England staff and external organisations.
• Good knowledge of ecology, British wildlife and England’s biodiversity commitments.
• Good knowledge of relevant policy, European Directives and UK/England Regulations (including for example Habitats Directive and Habitats Regulations, National Emission Ceilings Directive, Industrial Emissions Directive and Environmental Permitting Regulations, Countryside and Rights of Way Act.)
• Broad knowledge and experience of sources of atmospheric pollution (especially nitrogen) including agriculture. Familiarity with the measures available to reduce emissions.
• Strong numerical and analytical skills and experience of employing these.
• An ability to build effective working relationships with a wide range of colleagues, partners and stakeholders, as well as scientific/technical groups.
Natural England’s air pollution and ecotoxicology work is focussed on the impacts and risks to wildlife and habitats arising from atmospheric emissions. These emissions may come from point sources (including those regulated by the Environment Agency and Local Authorities) and from diffuse sources such as agriculture and traffic.

Natural England’s role is central to turning air quality strategy and wider environmental quality policy priorities into tangible outcomes for wildlife through our advice and support for delivery. We provide evidence and advice on air pollution and ecotoxicology effects at the national and local level, e.g. to Defra to support policy making, and to pollution regulators and local planning authorities to assist with regulation increasingly through Shared Nitrogen Action Plans in line with the direction of travel under CS21 and the Defra Clean Air Strategy. We also help to address diffuse and unregulated air pollution through our advice to farmers (under Catchment Sensitive Farming and Countryside Stewardship) and have been working closely with Defra on developing strategies to reduce ammonia emissions from agriculture.

Since 2013, Natural England’s air quality work programme has represented a planned shift in emphasis towards a more risk-based approach that: i) gives greater consideration to diffuse sources of pollution, ii) improves linkage to conservation objectives, and iii) seeks joint ownership and more integrated solution searching internally and externally. Good progress has been made towards a strategic approach that aligns with the Conservation Strategy and focuses on multiple objectives/outcomes.

• Work with Area Teams to facilitate the co-production of Shared Nitrogen Action Plans (SNAPs) with partners to deliver measures on the ground to improve Air Quality. To maintain a national overview, deliver guidance and training and conduct an evaluation of the pilot SNAPs
• Identify air pollution and ecotoxicology remedies (solutions) to help maintain and improve protected sites and priority habitats. Keep abreast of new/emerging techniques and determine how this information can be used to inform national (Government) policy and action plans at the local scale.
• Help build capability within area teams by training and mentoring via internal networks and providing training where appropriate
• Provide technical expertise to area teams on high risk casework where appropriate and help develop and implement strategic solutions for generic air and environmental pollution casework
• Represent Natural England on external groups and networks e.g. Active member of Defra Air Quality and Biodiversity Oversight Group, Inter-Agency Air Pollution Group, Air Quality Technical Advisory Group and National Emissions Ceilings Directive – NECD Defra working group and Defra critical loads project group
• Evidence, monitoring and evaluation - maintain and improve NE’s air pollution and ecosystem effects evidence base, disseminating results and ensuring Natural England’s advice on pollution reflects this evidence. Provide evidence and advice to Defra on pollution and biodiversity
• Work closely with Countryside Stewardship and Catchment Sensitive Farming leads in NE to facilitate integrated advice on diffuse water pollution and air pollution from agriculture
• Provide technical advice and thought leadership on appropriate monitoring and research programmes.


Please refer to Job Description



• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.

Selection process details

Please refer to Job Description

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

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We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

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