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New chair selected for Environment Agency

Former Cabinet Minister Chris Smith has been appointed as the new chair of the Environment Agency.

He replaces Sir John Harman, who stands down in June after eight years of service.

Lord Smith, currently chair of the independent Advertising Standards Authority and former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 1997-2001, will in future be responsible for ensuring that the Environment Agency is able to deliver its objectives in key areas such as the protection of the environment. He is expected to take up his role from July 14 2008.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary of State Hilary Benn said: I am delighted that Chris Smith has agreed to become chair of the Environment Agency. This is a crucial time for the Agency, with the Pitt Review of the Summer 2007 floods due to be published in July and the ever increasing focus on protecting the environment and tackling climate change.

Chriss strong leadership experience and his long-term commitment to the environment make him the ideal person to take the Agency forward in its role as environmental regulator, operator and advisor.

Benn thanked Sir John Harman for leaving the Agency as a robust organisation that is willing and able to meet the challenges it faces in the years to come.

Lord Smith added: I have been committed to raising the profile of environmental issues for more than 20 years, during which time the environment has risen to become one of the top priorities for Government and the public. I am looking forward to leading the Environment Agency at a challenging time as it takes practical steps both to protect the environment and adapt to climate change.

The Environment Agency chief executive Barbara Young may also be on the move. Last week the Department of Health (DoH) recommended Young as its preferred candidate for the chair of the care quality commission. But the Environment Agency said that this decision was not set in stone. The DoH said that she will relinquish her current post at the Environment Agency if her appointment as chair of the care quality commission is confirmed.

Image: New Environment Agency chair Chris Smith.

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