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Gove admits more than 400 staff moved from Defra departments to work on Brexit

He said roles ‘which are not deemed a high priority have been left unfilled and work reallocated and paused for now’.

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Gove admits more than 400 staff moved from Defra departments to work on Brexit

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has hit back at a ‘disappointing’ decision by Defra Secretary Michael Gove to move 400 staff from major Defra agencies to work on Brexit.

 

In a letter to EAC chair Mary Creagh, Mr Gove admitted that more than 400 EU Exit posts created within the central department had been filled with staff taken from roles at Natural England (NE), the Environment Agency, the Rural Payments Agency and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

 

It was in response to Ms Creagh’s concern that the move was damaging to Natural England’s ability to deliver on its statutory responsibilities such as protecting England’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).


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According to Mr Gove, 50 staff had been moved from NE – 20 per cent of whom had been working on SSSIs.

 

He said roles ‘which are not deemed a high priority have been left unfilled and work reallocated and paused for now’.

 

Priority

Ms Creagh said: “Preparations for leaving the EU must not get in the way of protecting our treasured and natural spaces and iconic British wildlife.

 

“It is disappointing that Defra has raided staff at Natural England, the organisation responsible for protecting some of the most highly valued wildlife in areas in England to prepare for Brexit.

 

“Natural England must not become a poor relation to Defra.

 

“Ministers must ensure the valuable work it does to promote biodiversity is given the priority it deserves.”

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