Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs
Department overview
Formed 2001
Preceding agencies
Jurisdiction United Kingdom
Headquarters Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London
51°29′44″N 0°07′34″W / 51.49556°N 0.12611°W / 51.49556; -0.12611
Annual budget £2.2 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011-12 [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Concordats set out agreed frameworks for co-operation between it and the Scottish Government,[2] Welsh Government[3] and Northern Ireland Executive,[4] which have devolved responsibilities for these matters in their respective nations. Defra also leads for Britain at the EU on agricultural, fisheries and environment matters and in other international negotiations on sustainable development and climate change, although a new Department of Energy and Climate Change was created on 3 October 2008 to take over the last responsibility.


It was formed in June 2001 under the leadership of Margaret Beckett, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was merged with part of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and with a small part of the Home Office. The department was created after the perceived failure of MAFF to deal adequately with an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. The Department had about 9,000 core personnel, as of January 2008.[5] The Department's main building is Nobel House on Smith Square, SW1.

In October 2008, the climate team at Defra was merged with the energy team from the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to create the Department of Energy and Climate Change, then headed by Ed Miliband.[6]


The Defra Ministers are as follows:[7]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP Secretary of State Strategy and overall responsibility for departmental policy; Budget and finances; Legislative programme; Emergencies; EU and international relations; Environment Agency and Natural England
George Eustice MP Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment Food and farming, animal health and welfare, marine and fisheries, science and innovation, better regulation, lead responsibility for the Rural Payments Agency, FERA, Cefas and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, deputy for the Secretary of State on Agriculture and Fisheries Council
Therese Coffey MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Life Opportunities Natural environment, floods and water, resource and environmental management, rural affairs, lead responsibility for the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission, deputy for the Secretary of State on Environment Council
The Lord Gardiner of Kimble Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs Biosecurity strategy, commercial projects, landscape, climate change adaptation

The Permanent Secretary is Clare Moriarty.[8]


Defra is responsible for British Government policy in the following areas[9]

Some policies apply to England alone due to devolution, while others are not devolved and therefore apply Britain as a whole.

Executive agencies

The department's executive agencies are:[10]

Key delivery partners

The department's key delivery partners are:[13]

A full list of departmental delivery and public bodies may be found on the Defra website.[16]

Defra in the English regions

A Countryside Stewardship Scheme sign near a new stile a Cratfield, Suffolk

Policies for environment, food and rural affairs are delivered in the regions by Defra's executive agencies and delivery bodies, in particular Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency, Animal Health and the Marine Management Organisation.

Defra provides grant aid to the following flood and coastal erosion risk management operating authorities:

Aim and strategic priorities

Defra's overarching aim is sustainable development, which is defined as "development which enables all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations." The Secretary of State wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister that he saw Defra’s mission as enabling a move toward what the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called "one planet living".[17]

Under this overarching aim, Defra has five strategic priorities:[18]

See also


  1. Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  2. "Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive".
  3. "Concordat between MAFF and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales".
  4. "Devolution: Subject specific Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive on fisheries".
  5. "Defra departmental report" (PDF).
  6. Harrabin, Roger (3 October 2008). "Marrying energy demand and supply". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  7. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  8. , Defra
  9. "Cabinet Office List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  10. "List of ministerial responsibilities (including Executive Agencies and Non-Ministerial Departments)" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  11. "DEFRA Agencies shake-up", news release by DEFRA, 29 June 2010 (from the DEFRA website)
  12. "Launch of Animal Health", news release by Animal Health, 2 April 2007 (from the Defra website)
  13. "Working with others: Defra's delivery partners", Chapter 6, Departmental Report 2006 (from the Defra website)
  14. "Marine Management Organisation established", press release by Defra, 1 April 2010 (from the Defra website.
  15. "New champion for the environment launches", press release by Natural England, 11 October 2006 (from the Natural England website)
  16. "Delivery Landscape Map".
  17. "My priorities for Defra", David Miliband's letter to the Prime Minister, 11 July 2006
  18. "Delivering the Essentials of Life: Defra’s Five Year Strategy", Annex B

Video clips

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