Environment Agency chief Sir Philip Dilley resigns

Sir Philip said the 'expectations of the role' had become 'inappropriate'

The Chairman of the Environment Agency Sir Philip Dilley has resigned from his position today following criticism for being out of the country while the North of England suffered devastating floods.

Sir Philip said he decided to resign because "expectations of the role have expanded to require the chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year", something he felt was "inappropriate".

He added he was "well qualified" to carry out the role but media scrutiny on him was "diverting attention" from efforts to help those affected by flooding.

Sir James Bevan has been announced as the newly appointed Chief Executive.

In a statement Sir Philip said: "I have today told the Secretary of State of my decision to step down as Chairman of the Environment Agency, and she has accepted my resignation.

"I am well qualified to carry out this role, and had much to contribute. I fully support the Secretary of State's reform agenda to deliver efficiency as well as a better, more joined-up service to our stakeholders and the public, and so I am disappointed that I will not now see through delivery of these reforms.

"My reason for resigning is that the expectations of the role have expanded to require the Chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover. In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.

"Furthermore the media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable.

"I want to be clear that I have not made any untrue or misleading statements, apart from approving the statement about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer.

"The Environment Agency is an extremely competent and well-run organisation, and the many employees I have met are passionate about what they do because they really care for the environment and the communities we work to enhance and protect."

Sir Philip, who took the £100,000-a-year, three-days-a-week role in 2014, was accused of remaining absent from the nation’s flood-crisis over Christmas, instead spending time in his home in Barbados.

Last week he said: “I do have two homes. My wife is from the Caribbean. When I’m there, I don’t feel I’m away – I feel I’m at home.

“I do keep in regular contact, I work from there,”

Additional reporting by various agencies