Guest blog by James Cross, Chief Executive of Natural England.
It’s a real pleasure to be asked to write this guest blog at the end of my first year at Natural England. All in all it has been a thoroughly engaging, rewarding and very busy year.
I spend a lot of time on the road with my teams, our customers and our partners and on my travels, I have met a lot of Environment Agency staff. I have always been impressed with the level of expertise of those that I have met and have been encouraged by how well our organisations work together.
One highlight was visiting the Humber, where we have used our Outcomes Approach to help bring our partners together to work on the South Humber Gateway project. We have developed a shared solution that ensures the go-ahead of £2billion of planned investment and 15,000 new high tech jobs over the next 10 years, whilst at the same time protecting one of Europe’s most important estuaries for birds. It’s a great example of what we can achieve when we work together.
I joined Natural England because I believe the work we do is important. Our country’s environment and landscapes are a precious resource, which needs to be looked after carefully. Having grown up in Teesside, an area of heavy industry, vibrant wildlife and wonderful landscapes, I believe passionately that people, our economy and our environment can, and indeed must, thrive together.
Under our Chairman, Andrew Sells, we have focused Natural England on two simple goals. First, to make us easier to work with and second, to make us more effective. Over this time we have made some big changes, to make sure that we are a modern and highly efficient body, delivering outcomes for the environment, economy and people.
At the heart of all of this work is what we call our ‘Outcomes Approach’, which focuses us on what we want to achieve in the real world rather than on rules and process. By listening more to those we work with, agreeing common and shared objectives and by explaining our workings out, we can all go much further to achieving our desired outcome to secure a healthy environment, economy and society.