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Defra's top scientist delays departure

Defra’s chief scientific adviser Ian Boyd, who commissioned a long-overdue report on the UK waste sector, has postponed his departure because he ”cannot easily walk away” from the challenge of Brexit and opportunities presented by new Government funding for industrial research.

Environment secretary Michael Gove welcomed the decision in a tweet: “Delighted beyond words to have Ian stay in post – a quite outstanding public servant.”

ian boyd

ian boyd defra

Boyd originally announced in February that he would be leaving in August after five years but now says he will remain “for at least another year”.

He wrote in his blog that new opportunities such as the five-year £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund, which is backed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, had helped him to change his mind.

“In the whole of my career, the opportunities have never been greater for research to deliver meaningful progress.

”For the first time in my experience at Defra, the research community is really in a mood to listen to what challenges Government departments such as this,” he adds.

“The baton I carry needs to be passed on eventually, but it needs to happen at the right time.

“With all the changes going on in the research sector and also with the UK exiting the EU, and the challenges and opportunities that throws up, this doesn’t feel like the best time for me to pass that baton on.

“Like many others, I cannot easily walk away from these challenges and especially when opportunities are opening up which could ratchet us along the track to improvement.”

Paul Vanston, chief executive of packaging industry group Incpen tweeted: ”Very pleased with your news. Agree with your synopsis of the challenges and opportunities. Lots to be done!”

Colin Church, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, tweeted his congratulations, and urged publication of the long-overdue report on waste-as-resource which Boyd jointly commissioned with Government chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport, who left his post last month.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I agree with Colin - we want to read the report, not least because we anticipate the report will be less than supportive of waste incineration, which after all is hardly the way to ensure resource productivity...

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