Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

From WikiCorporates
(Redirected from Defra)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Responsible for:

  • Environmental protection, Air quality, Biodiversity, Conservation, Plant health,
  • Food production and standards, Animal health Welfare
  • Agriculture, Food, Land management, National parks
  • Fisheries, Hunting, Forestry,
  • Rural communities
  • Marine policy, Water management, Inland waterways, Flooding
  • Adaptation to global warming
  • Chemical substances and pesticides
  • Noise
  • Rural development, Sustainable development
  • Waste management

There are agreed frameworks for co-operation between the British Govt and the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive, which have devolved responsibilities for these matters.

Find out where this fits in: "Earth Observations Centre of Excellence", DDG search

  • ... In 2015, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs set up the Earth Observations Centre of Excellence, the aim of which is to stimulate innovation and develop tools that can be used multiple times. A few UK departments have already benefited, reducing the number of field interventions and inspections in sectors such as water and air quality, and fisheries, or helping those interventions become more targeted when necessary. The intention is to now expand more broadly across other govt sectors, and continue momentum gained in supporting scientific programmes and with international collaboration. See also Defra digital blog
  • The Blue Belt project is also working with Defra Earth Observations to determine whether Sentinel data could be used. ref


  • Dec.19.2018: More than 30,000 badgers killed over autumn in largest cull ever, figures show. The number of badgers killed in a bid to control bovine TB has reached a new high of 32,601 this year, according to new govt figures. While govt sources said the controversial operation was playing a successful role in disease control, environmental groups warned populations of British badgers were being pushed towards extinction. Farming minister George Eustice said it was helping to “achieve and maintain long-term reductions in the level of TB in cattle across the southwest and midlands”. “This is the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory. By the end of 2018, the govt will have spent over £50m of public funds killing over 67,000 badgers which could push the species to the verge of local extinction in areas of England where it has lived since the Ice Age.” Scientists said cattle-to-cattle transmission was still the biggest factor and that placing all the blame on wildlife was misguided. As an alternative to culling badgers, wildlife groups have suggested vaccination programmes that they say would provide the additional benefit of saving taxpayers’ money. Wildlife Trusts’ trial had costs of £82 per badger vaccinated compared to an average £339 cost per badger culled. Josh Gabbatiss, The Independent.
  • Mar.04.2018: Badger cull faces review as bovine TB goes on rising. The govt is to review the controversial badger cull as part of an inquiry into its strategy to clamp down on bovine TB. Launching the review, Farming minister George Eustice said early analysis of the first two cull zones suggested that it was reducing the incidence of the disease, a claim disputed by conservationists. (See the comments section). Jamie Doward, The Guardian.
  • Feb.27.2018: Final curtain for wild circus animals. Travelling circuses will be banned from using wild animals in England by Jan.2020, the govt has pledged. Ministers have been promising to impose a ban for more than five years but this is the first time the govt committed to a deadline. DEFRA reviewed the existing licensing scheme for wild animals in circuses which was introduced in 2013. The review concluded that the scheme was effective and "ensured that animal welfare needs have been met without imposing excessive costs". Thomas Chipperfield, who hopes to apply for a licence to tour this summer with two lions and a tiger, said the ban was not justified because Defra's review had concluded that the licensing scheme was working well. David Bowles of the RSPCA, said the deadline for the ban was "very welcome and comes as a huge relief". Scotland has already banned wild animals in circuses and Wales has said it is "exploring opportunities" to impose a ban. Ben Webster, The Times.
  • Feb.23.2018: Michael Gove says government may ban plastic straws. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said yesterday that ministers were doing “everything we can” to restrict their use, adding: "We're exploring at the moment if we can ban them", and that banning plastic straws might prove to be easier once Britain had left the EU. Andrew Ellson, The Times.

Policy Papers

Non-Ministerial Departments


Executive Agencies

Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science

Cefas carries out a wide range of research, advisory, consultancy, monitoring and training activities for a large number of customers around the world.

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

The VMD is responsible for regulating veterinary medicines, including making and enforcing legislation, but also advise Ministers on veterinary-medicine policy including policies relating to antibiotic resistance. Their largest source of funding comes from the pharmaceutical industry.

The VMD was established in 1989, became a Next Steps Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food in 1990, and then an Executive Agency of DEFRA in Jun.2001. The VMD receives 20% of its funding from DEFRA, and 80% from the Veterinary Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Food Industry. The VMD has one key financial performance target: to achieve 100% cost recovery. A/cs 2016/7, pp.5,6,35 The VMD is responsible for:

  • Monitoring and taking action on reports of adverse events from veterinary medicines
  • Testing for residues of veterinary medicines or illegal substances in animals and animal products
  • Assessing applications for and authorising companies to sell veterinary medicines in the UK and the EU
  • Controlling how veterinary medicines are made and distributed
  • Advising govt ministers on developing veterinary medicines policy ,and putting it into action
  • Making, updating and enforcing UK legislation on veterinary medicines

Animal and Plant Health Agency

APHA's main task is to protect the health and welfare of animals, as well as the general public, from disease. It conducts work across Great Britain on behalf of DEFRA, the Scottish govt and the Welsh govt. APHA specialises in diseases of livestock and plants, diagnosis of disease and surveillance of new and emerging disease.

APHA was created in Oct.2014 following the merger of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, and part of the Food and Environment Research Agency, including the Bee Inspectorate, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, Plant Variety and Seeds Group and the GM Inspectorate, to create a single agency responsible for animal, plant and bee health.ref

For plant and bee health, APHA works closely with § Fera Science Ltd (formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency) for provision of diagnostic services through a long term supply agreement between Defra and FSL.

APHA reported gross expenditure of £227.1m for 2017/18, an increase of £9.8m on 2016/17. Of the total expenditure, 33% (£74.8m) was funded from external income, with the balance funded by grant in aid from Defra.ref

Apha Scientific


Through APHA Scientific, APHA offers additional services to the veterinary and scientific community, industry and the public, including the supply of commercial products and services.ref

Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organisation (independent of both commercial industry and of Government). Sectors:

Nb: all pics are in DEFRA-Agriculture-Horticulture-Development-Board-ink.svg

Consumer Council for Water

CCWater - the Water Watchdog - represents water and sewerage consumers in England and Wales, and takes up unresolved complaints. We support thousands of customers with complaints they have been unable to resolve directly with their water company. In addition, we carry out research on a wide range of water issues and publish our findings. Our work costs each water bill payer about 21p per year. ref

Environment Agency

Established in 1996, with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England (and Wales, until 2013).

The Environment Agency is responsible for:

  • regulating major industry and waste
  • treatment of contaminated land
  • Water quality and resources
  • Fisheries
  • Inland river, estuary and harbour navigations
  • Conservation and ecology
  • Managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea

  • Andy Stamp, an environment officer at the agency
  • Alan Cansdale, environment manager

The National Rivers Authority was subsumed into the Environment Agency in 1996.ref,ref

National Packaging Waste Database

The NPWD is an on-line system which tracks how much Packaging has been put into the UK market and how much Packaging Waste has been recovered or recycled. It provides an easy way for industry to prove that they are meeting their legal requirements, and this, in turn, helps DEFRA prove that the UK is meeting our overall EU obligations. NPWD replaced a completely paper based system of regulation that had been open to fraud and did not provide the right information at the right time. The £2m project was funded by the Environment Agency, DEFRA, Scottish Executive, Northern Ireland EA and industry. The system is now managed by the Environment Agency on behalf of all stakeholders.ref Website

Advisory Committee on Packaging

The ACP was burned at the stake under the Cons/LibDem (Cameron/Clegg)'s "Bonfire of the Quangos" in 2014.ref However, the ACP quietly rose from the ashes in Jan.2015.ref, ref, ref,ref.

Marine Management Organisation

The Common Fisheries Policy

  • Feb.24.2018: ‘Sustainable’ tuna fishing kills endangered silky sharks. Thousands of endangered sharks are killed by vessels targeting tuna which is then labelled as “sustainable” and sold in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda. Many sharks have their fins cut off before their bodies are thrown overboard, a practice which is meant to be banned under the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The silky shark has declined rapidly because of industrial fishing and is considered at increased risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Silky shark fins are in great demand in China for soup. The tuna is sold under the Princes brand in the UK and caught by vessels operating from various Pacific islands working together in a group known as Parties of the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The On the Hook campaign, a coalition of conservation charities, scientists and pole and line tuna companies, has accused the MSC of profiting from weak standards. In a joint letter last month to the MSC, Wild Aid, Greenpeace, the Shark Project and more than 50 other conservation groups said an increasing number of fisheries certified by the MSC "routinely discard and waste excessive amounts of sea life as unwanted bycatch, irreversibly destroy vulnerable sea bottom habitats, continue to catch overfished species, and continue to use unsustainable, non-certified methods". Ben Webster, The Times.
  • Nov.17.2017: The Economic Impact of Brexit Across UK Fishing Fleets. Big claims are being made - but is Brexit really a "sea of opportunity" for UK boats? The reality is Brexit will probably create more losers than winners in the Fisheries. Tariffs outside the SM could devastate some fishing businesses. Fewer EU boats in UK waters is not likely to lead to more profits. Coastal communities relying on those boats likely to be hardest hit. Brexit alone will not lead to more sustainable fishing. If the UK and the EU take too much fish, overfishing results - and everyone loses. Griffin Carpenter, New Economics Foundation.
  • Feb.15.2017: UK fishermen may not win waters back after Brexit, EU memo reveals. MEPs have drafted 7 provisions to be included in Britain’s "exit agreement", including the stipulation that there will be "no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities for jointly fished stocks [maintaining the existing quota distribution in UK and EU waters]". The document adds that in order for the UK and EU to keep to commitments on sustainable fishing – contained within the United Nations stocks agreement – "it is difficult to see any alternative to the continued application of the Common Fisheries Policy". Daniel Boffey, The Guardian.
  • Oct.01.2016: What the UK's fishing industry wants from Brexit. Marcus Coleman, chief executive of #Seafish, the govt agency that represents the Seafood industry, says there are plenty of reasons to be positive. For Coleman, there are 5 main issues: how fisheries are managed, trade tariffs, EU regulations, free movement of people, and grants. The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations says Brexit is an opportunity to “realign” quotas and tip the balance back in favour of UK fishermen. David Kleimann, a researcher of EU and international trade policy at the European University Institute, says laying claim to a 200-mile limit would “send the UK back to the Middle Ages” in terms of its fishing policy. "Fish migrate in waters shared with EU member states, so co-ordination is necessary to counter the depletion of stocks," he says. Szu Ping Chan, The Telegraph.
  • Jun.14.2016: British fishermen want out of the EU – here’s why. In May 2016, a campaign group called Fishing for Leave was founded, which aims to withdraw from the EU to restore national control over fishing within British waters. The vast majority of fishermen think that leaving the EU will improve the fortunes of their industry. King's College London.

Natural England

Natural England is responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment. NE focuses its activities and resources on four strategic outcomes:

  1. a healthy natural environment
  2. enjoyment of the natural environment
  3. sustainable use of the natural environment
  4. a secure environmental future

Sea Fish Industry Authority

SeaFish is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by DEFRA, the Scottish Govt, the Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Seafish is a govt-sanctioned PR lobby group which opposes campaigns to protect fish stocks and marine ecosystems. Professional lobbyists such as the huge public relations company Weber Shandwick are paid to torpedo campaigns to protect the natural world. Seafish colludes with crime: illegally landed fish has been sold with its knowledge.[1]

Advisory Non-Departmental Public Bodies


Tribunal Non-Departmental Public Bodies


Other Bodies

Drinking Water Inspectorate

The DWI was set up to regulate the public water supply companies in England and Wales. It produces an annual report showing the quality of and problems associated with drinking water. Its remit is to assess the quality of drinking water in England and Wales, taking enforcement action if standards are not being met, and appropriate action when water is unfit for human consumption.[1]
It is also responsible for reporting on drinking water quality to the European Union under the European Drinking Water Directive (DWD), Council Directive 98/83/EC, which concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption.[2] In addition, it provides advice to DEFRA on the transposition of European water legislation in England and Wales.

National Forest Company

Established in 1995, the National Forest Company is responsible for leading the creation of the National Forest, working in partnership with landowners, businesses, public, private and voluntary organisations and local communities to deliver a shared vision for the Forest. National Forest is a charitable company, overseen by its Board of Trustees. It receives funding from DEFRA (£2.9m in 2017),ref as well raising income through fundraising.ref. We award grants to institutions and landowners to support activities which contribute to our aims.
Partners: Forest Holidays; James Latham (timber importer); PHS Group (hygiene services provider); Ecotricity; the Air Ambulance Service; Tollgate Brewery; Rolls-Royce; Electric Paper (online business process automation); Reabrook Ltd (aerosol mnf); H K Wentworth Ltd (family-owned firm making electronics lubricants etc.).

National Forest

The National Forest is a wooded landscape project for the nation across ~200 square miles of central England. To date, 8.7m trees have been planted.ref

High Profile Groups

Air Quality Expert Group

The AQEG provides independent scientific advice on air quality to Defra, in particular the air pollutants contained in the Air Quality Strategy (AQS) for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and those covered by the EU Directives on Ambient Air Quality. The AQEG gives advice on levels, sources and characteristics of air pollutants in the UK; it does not advise on health impacts or air quality standards. The AQEG publishes its reports on the UK Air website.

Animal Health & Welfare Board for England

  • website?

The AHWBE is responsible for strategic animal health and welfare policy, and oversight of implementation in relation to England, taking account of public health considerations. It is the principal source of departmental advice to Defra ministers on all strategic health and welfare matters relating to all kept animals in England.

Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food

The PRiF provides independent scientific advice on pesticide residues in the UK's food. It works closely with the Department for Work & Pensions § Health and Safety Executive's Chemicals Regulation Division and the Food Standards Agency. Members are independent appointments made through open competition, in line with OCPA guidelines on best practice for making public appointments. The PRiF publishes reports on its findings, as well as an annual report link. Members are expected to act in accord with the seven ‘Nolan’ principles of public life. The PRiF replaced the Pesticide Residues Committee. ref

Partnership For Action Against Wildlife Crime

PAW is an agency body made up of organisations involved in wildlife law enforcement. It helps statutory and non-govt organisations to work together to reduce wildlife crime. The Liaison Group meets twice a year to co-ordinate the Partnership’s activities, and to determine its priorities. It oversees working groups to take forward work on particular issues. Membership of the group comprises:

Working Groups:

  • PAW Forensics working group
  • PAW Marine working group
  • PAW Training and Conference working group

Farm Animal Welfare Committee

FAWC advises the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales on the welfare of farmed animals, and on any legislative or other changes that might be considered to improve standards of animal welfare. Additionally, FAWC provides independent scientific support and advice, and reviews codes of pratice for the welfare of farmed livestock.

Joint Ventures

Fera Science Ltd

See also Capita plc § Fera Science Ltd
Fera, formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency, is a joint venture owned by Capita (75%) and DEFRA (25%), with operations run by Capita. A 10-year Service Agreement (2015-2025) was negotiated for the provision of scientific services by Fera Science Ltd to govt. Through this service agreement, Fera Science Ltd is obliged to continue to pursue public interest objectives and develop its science capability.ref, p.5

Fera has statutory responsibilities for delivering policy and inspectorate functions in relation to Plant Health, Bee Health and Plant Varieties and Seeds. Fera is part of the UK capability to respond to, and recover from, emergency situations, including accidental or deliberate release of hazardous materials.

Fera's Plant Clinic provides a market-leading service with over 80 years experience in pest and disease identification services for all horticultural and agricultural crops, garden plants and plant-based products.

Fera acts as a specialist service provider to companies in the agrochemical, pharmaceutical and industrial chemicals sectors. Fera covers a number of areas including Environmental Fate and Exposure, Ecotoxicity testing of terrestrials and Chemical analysis.

FAPAS: Fera is also home to the Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme, an international food analysis proficiency testing service, and the National Collection of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria.

Fera Timeline

Apr.2015 Fera Science Ltd: Fera's remaining functions were transferred to Fera Science Ltd, the new joint venture company, with Capita acquiring a 75% stake. As of Apr.01, Fera was no longer an operational govt agency.ref,ref
Feb.2015 Capita was chosen as the govt's "preferred" joint venture partner for Fera.(Fera report, p.4) As part of the programme, Newcastle University and Fera formed a joint institute.ref,ref
Oct.2014 The Animal and Plant Health Agency was formed, with 4 of Fera's functions being transferred over: the Bee Inspectorate, the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Plant Variety and Seeds Group and the Genetic Modification Inspectorate.ref,ref This was done in anticipation of the privatisation of Fera, which was completed on Apr.01.2015. The GMI is located at the National Agri-food Innovation Campus, near York. ref, p.5
Jul.2104 The Government Decontamination Service was returned to DEFRA.
May.2014Privatisation: Owen Paterson announced that the govt was launching a procurement exercise to find a joint venture partner for Fera.ref
Apr.2014Fera's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, responsible for implementing the plant health regulations in England and Wales, on behalf of DEFRA and the Welsh govt, was returned to DEFRA.ref
Nov.2013 Fera lost its individual logo, and was re-branded in line with other govt departments.ref
Apr.2013Sand Hutton estate: ownership and management responsibility of the site was transferred from Fera to DEFRA.ref, p.15
Apr.2013The Wildlife Unit and its associated activities were transferred to AHVLA from Fera. ref, p.100,ref, p.6
Cons/LibDem (Cameron/Clegg)
The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) was formed as an executive agency of DEFRA, following the merger of Animal Health, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and elements of Defra’s Food and Farming Group. AHVLA also works on behalf of the Scottish and Welsh govts, and also provides services to the Food Standards Agency, other govt departments, the farming industry, international bodies and commercial customers worldwide. ref
Labour (Brown)
The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) was formed as an executive agency of Defra by bringing together the Central Science Laboratory at Sand Hutton, the Plant Health Division/Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division, and the UK Government Decontamination Service at MoD Stafford.(Fera report, p.6), ref, p.1
Additional Sources:
The Food and Environment Research Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2014/15 Food and Environment Research Agency,, Jul.2015.
Central Science Laboratory Annual Report & Accounts 2008/09. Central Science Laboratory, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jun.2009.
About the GDS. The GDS was created in Oct.2005, to advise local authorities and organisations on cleaning up the environment after a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) incident.ref UK Government Decontamination Service, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Fera has a significant presence in the agri-food market where it is already recognised as an internationally respected scientific organisation. As the joint venture partner, Capita will bring valuable commercial expertise and experience enabling Fera to maximise its capabilities. The venture also includes the creation of a joint academic institute with Newcastle University aimed at advancing the understanding and application of science to practical agri-food problems.

The Institute for Agri-Food Research and Innovation is a Public-Private Partnership between Newcastle University and Fera. IAFRI is based at Fera at the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire) and at the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University, and on its two research farms (Nafferton and Cockle Park) in Northumberland. The IAFRI mission is to conduct frontier research, fast-tracked into innovation to drive new solutions, techniques, skills and best practice in the agri-food sector. This is well aligned to deliver national ambitions in innovation for the UK’s agri-food industries ref,ref

Financial sustainability of local authorities 2018 visualisation,

Plant Health Division, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, Central Science Laboratory, Pesticides Safety Directorate, Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division, etc: see, Oct.2012, p.14

The National Bee Unit

See the Brochure here: Mar.2013
APHA was formed as an executive agency of DEFRA. It was created from the parts of Fera that previously had inspection and enforcement responsibilities (the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the National Bee Unit and the Genetic Modification Inspectorate) and the Animal Health / Veterinary Laboratories Agency. APHA provides a home for the GMI. Fera Science Ltd provides diagnostic support for the GMI.ref, p.5

The Genetic Modification Inspectorate

website, Consent holders (for release to the environment), p.13, 2014/15
Moved to APHA - date? see Sept.2018 and Apr.2018. Note: no website pages for the GMI itself found on, except for this lame page.
The GMI liases with, and is also based at the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA), the Scottish govt's version.ref SASA is opposed to GM. It also has a current list of GMI publications here.


  • Oct.2008: DECC: the Department of Energy & Climate Change was formed from the merger of the climate team at DEFRA with the energy team from the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR).ref
  • May.2006: DCLG: the Department for Communities & Local Government was formed from the Local Government & the Regions portfolio, which had been parked at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister since May.2002.
  • May.2002: DTLR's Local Government & the Regions portfolios were separated from Transport and given to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Jun.2001: DEFRA: the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs was formed when DETR's Environmental protection elements were merged with MAFF, and a small part of the Home Office.
  • Jun.2001: DTLR, the Department for Transport, Local Government & the Regions was formed from the transport, housing and planning, and local and regional govt aspects of DETRA; the Environment portfolio being merged with MAFF, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food into DEFRA, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • 1997: DETRA, the Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions, was formed by the merger of the DoE with the Department of Transport, plus some other functions, thus restoring the DoE to its initial 1970
  • Oct.1970: DoE, the Department of the Environment, was created as a combination of the Ministry of Housing & Local Government, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Building & Works. It therefore managed a mixed bag of issues: housing and planning, local govt, public buildings, environmental protection and transport (James Callaghan gave transport its own department again in 1976).
  • 1955: MAFF, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, was created with the addition of responsibilities for the Food Industry to the existing responsibilities for Agriculture and the Fishing Industry.. The Ministry was dissolved in 2002, at which point its responsibilities had been merged into the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs., link
  • 1919: the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries.
  • 1903: the Board of Agriculture & Fisheries.
  • 1889: the Board of Agriculture was created by the Board of Agriculture Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. c.30).


  1. ^ The stealth tax that says to hell with North Sea cod stocks. The Guardian, George Monbiot, Nov.25.2013