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Defra waste chief leaves

Defra’s senior waste civil servant Nigel Thornton is stepping down from the role as part of a shake-up of the department’s senior waste personnel.

The director for climate, waste and atmosphere will head up a new food and green economy portfolio from April.

He will be replaced by Colin Church, currently director for climate change, with the department indicating further changes could be made in the autumn.

Thorton said in a letter to stakeholders: “Waste is in many ways the most fascinating policy on which I have worked, in now quite a long career in government, as it touches all corners of society and virtually all parts of public policy-making.

“I have greatly appreciated your help and support during that time, and I know you will afford the same to Colin and the new senior management team.”

Household waste and waste regulation director Sabine Mosner will also leave the waste programme as part of the restructuring to lead work on green economy and growth.

Thornton’s letter added: “Karen Lepper and Clare Hawley will continue as a job-share to lead our work on energy from waste, anaerobic digestion and waste prevention, providing valuable continuity in the senior team.

“There will also be good continuity on the rest of our waste policy work at team level, though there may be some changes there in the autumn.”

Nigel Atkinson will take over from John Burns in leading the waste infrastructure delivery programme. Burns is returning to the private sector.

New faces at Defra

New director for climate, waste and atmosphere Dr Colin Church is currently director of climate change, exotic diseases and agency relations, where he is responsible for exotic animal disease policy and outbreak handling.  

Previously, Church has been director of national climate change in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, where he was responsible for Carbon Budgets, the European Emissions Trading System, and energy efficiency in businesses and the public sector.

He has also worked in the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business and has a background in EU and international environmental policy.

New leader of the waste infrastructure delivery programme Nigel Atkinson is currently leading a review considering possible alternative business models for Defra’s Science Agencies.

Prior to this he was responsible for environment regulation policy (including reform of environmental permitting, sanctions and environmental liability); policy on sustainable agriculture and implementation of CAP reform; and assurance of Defra’s business processes.

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