Director of Floods and Water

Contract Type
Flexible Hours, Permanent
Environment, Public Sector
London, Bristol, York
Expiry Date
We are seeking an outstanding candidate to be the Director of Floods and Water for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Job Description

This is a hugely varied and rewarding role, leading a portfolio of work to improve outcomes in our interactions with the water environment.

Water is essential for human life, for the economy, and for a thriving environment. It also brings significant risks through flooding, drought, and pollution. In this role you will lead a portfolio of work which aims to improve outcomes across all of our interactions with the water environment. The team aims to improve the quality of rivers, maximise the benefits of waterways as public open space, ensure clean safe drinking water and a fair deal for water bill payers, and ensure we are resilient to emergencies including flooding and drought. The team also manages a wider portfolio of commercial projects, and our recovery from some other types of emergency, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear incidents.

As Director of Floods and Water, you will lead the work on floods and coastal erosion; water quality and water supply (including oversight of the Drinking Water Inspectorate); lead director for our relationship with the Environment Agency; our commercial policy portfolio including the Department’s interests in Thames Tideway Tunnel, Covent Garden Market Association) CGMA, waste PFI and the Canal and Rivers Trust (CRT); and responsibility for our emergency response capability including both flooding and Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear Incidents (CBRN) for which Defra is the lead government department.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets ambitious long-term goals for clean and plentiful water, and to tackle environmental hazards such as floods and drought. The work is hugely varied, using all our policy and delivery tools. You will manage cross-cutting policy aims, like water quality, where we need to influence across Defra, other Government Departments and industry to drive improvements. You will lead Defra’s engagement with the Environment Agency, and have policy oversight of much of their work, including the £5.2 billion floods capital programme. You will oversee major commercial projects, including the Thames Tideway Tunnel – a complex private sector scheme – Waste PFI projects, and the redevelopment of Covent Garden Market. You will be responsible for our readiness and response to a wide range of emergencies and be a key part of the Whitehall resilience community.

Defra is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

We passionately believe in equality, diversity and inclusion and welcome applications from the widest range of people of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

For full details on the role, including the person specification and information on how to apply, please click on the link and download the candidate information pack.


• Leading a high-performing and inclusive team, ensuring that Floods and Water is a great place to work, where everyone can thrive.

• Managing resources so that people’s time, and the money we spend are focused on the things that matter most.

• Overseeing the implementation of the Government’s new Floods Policy Statement; leading departmental oversight and assurance of the Environment Agency’s investment in flood resilience, and wider government activity to improve our resilience to floods and coastal erosion.

• Driving a step change in water quality, working across Whitehall and with water companies, farmers and local government to clean up our rivers.

• Leading government’s relationship with the privatised water industry, and their regulator, Ofwat. Ensuring that water companies deliver clean safe drinking water now and for future generations, improve their environmental performance, and offer a good deal to bill payers.

• Leading Defra’s relationship with the Environment Agency, Ofwat and the Consumer Council for Water, ensuring that we maximise the opportunities for partnership working, alongside good governance.

• Managing a portfolio of commercial and private finance projects, including with Thames Tideway Tunnel, a portfolio of Waste PFI schemes, Covent Garden Market and the Canal and River Trust.

• Lead Government’s response to floods, drought, water supply emergencies, and the recovery from CBRN incidents, in partnership with the Environment Agency and as part of the wider Whitehall resilience community.

• Make a strong contribution to the leadership of the ERM Group and Defra as a whole.