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Senior Specialist

Posted: 3 Nov 2019 Closes: 22 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/20191103121046

This post is based Nationally

Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. We provide practical advice, grounded in science, on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of everyone.

We’re recruiting two Senior Specialist Economists to join our Chief Scientist’s Directorate. The directorate is dispersed so the location is flexible.

The Chief Scientist’s Directorate hosts Natural England’s scientific and technical capability. It leads on research, evidence standards and applying evidence to decision-making. As an evidence-led organisation, science and evidence is at the heart of our work. Our work is both applied to the real world and technically robust, and we have track record of turning our outputs into academic journal papers.

You’ll use your economics expertise to ensure that the full value of the natural environment is included in decisions, both in Natural England and much more widely. Doing so will improve lives in England now, and for future generations.

Economists in Natural England work in a small team, led by our Principal Specialist, Tim Sunderland. We work closely with ecologists and social scientists to produce integrated products. Much of our work is focussed on Natural Capital – building the environment into decision-making by treating it as an asset which provides benefits. Natural Capital currently has a high profile due to its central role in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and an upsurge in interest in the privates sectors.

We have a reputation for providing high quality analytical advice and recently won the John Hoy award for the best piece of economic analysis in government. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to contribute to this high profile workstream. Other currently important areas of work include, health, economic development, spatial planning and protected areas.

The successful candidate will be an experienced and confident economist, able to lead specific topics within Natural England’s work. Specifically, this will include:

Working with others across Natural England, and outside the organisations, to understand developments

Appropriately framing environmental economic challenges.

Producing, and commissioning, high-quality analysis and decision-support tools

Providing quality assurance and advice on analysis and decision-support tools produced by others

Provide coaching and training in Environmental Economics to Natural England staff

We are recruiting two roles as follows:

Role 1: Permanent member of the economics team-

The successful candidate will work across Natural England’s remit and develop specialisms as appropriate. We are planning to develop an alternative progress dashboard and would welcome applications from candidates with an interest in this area.

Role 2:Supporting the North Devon New Environmental Land Management Scheme trial (Initially Fixed Term Appointment of 12 months)

Environmental Land Management is a large scheme distributes more than £3 billion to UK farmers in return for more environmentally friendly farming practices. North Devon is running one of several trials which will influence the design of the new scheme This is a challenging role developing and testing a new approach to farm business planning exploring ways to operationalise the use of natural capital indicators at the farm level and integrate land management plans with farm business planning to generate costed farm scale natural capital offers.

The trial will focus on establishing the costs of ‘buying’ natural capital outcomes on an income foregone basis, on our indicators of natural capital report. The trial team will provide up to 30 individual farm land management plans and natural capital options which the economist will analyse, providing costed options. The economist will work with the team to test farm business reactions to the approach and share lessons with Defra.

This role is a Defra funded Fixed Term Appointment for 12 months in the first instance. (The role may be extended in January 2021 to test new payments in the farm businesses subject to funding). This role is highly suitable for a government secondment and as a development opportunity


Competence 1

Professional competency


Technical/Specialist knowledge/qualifications


The successful candidate must have:

Qualifications and experience:

• current expertise in economics or environmental economics;
• a good under-graduate or post-graduate degree in economics (or environmental economics) or equivalent 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;
• at least two-years of post-graduate work experience in the application of economics;

Skills and knowledge:

• a broad knowledge of closely related specialisms (e.g. Ecosystem Approach and Natural Capital);
• strong numerical and analytical skills and experience of employing these in the application of economics;
• good verbal and written communication skills. The successful candidate must be able to work effectively as part of a team and to explain complex economics concepts in a meaningful way to non-economists; and
• an ability to build effective working relationships with a wide range of colleagues, partners and stakeholders, including non-economists and scientific/technical groups.

Competence 2

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 3

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 (eg through funding or partnerships).
• Keep up to date with current evidence and research and integrate this into your work.

Competence 4

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 5

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.

Competence 6

Professional competency


Communicating effectively - Practitioner


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


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.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

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.

Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

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