The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a Government Department in the UK.

We cover – we make policy and legislation, and work with others to deliver our policies in - areas such as:

  • the natural environment, biodiversity, plants and animals
  • sustainable development and the green economy
  • food, farming and fisheries
  • animal health and welfare
  • environmental protection and pollution control
  • rural communities and issues.

Although we only work directly in England, we work closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we generally lead on negotiations in the EU and internationally.

The Government believes that we need to protect the environment for future generations, make our economy more environmentally sustainable, and improve our quality of life and well-being. We also believe that much more needs to be done to support the farming industry, protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable food production.


Dr Ailsa Benton

Air Quality Science Policy Advisor

Professor Ian Boyd

Chief Scientific Adviser

Emily Cattell

Chief Social Researcher

Sarah Church

Director, Food and Farming

Georgina Collins

Deputy Director for Floods, Water and CBRN Emergencies

Tamsin Cooper

National Food Strategy Deputy Director

Lucia Costanzo

Senior Manager, Engagement | Joint Air Quality Unit | Defra/DfT

John Curnow

Chief Economist

Henry Dieudonné-Demaria

Former Lead, Climate Strategy

Tamara Finkelstein

Permanent Secretary

Davina Henderson

Chief of Staff to the Permanent Secretary

Elizabeth Hurley

Deputy Director

Dr David Kennedy

Director General for Food, Farming and Biosecurity

Dr Tim Leunig

Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of State

Frances Pimenta

Head of Climate Adaption Policy

Thomas Pryke

Policy Lead - kept animals (primates)

James Quinault

Interim Director General for Europe, International and Constitution Group

James Smith

Deputy Director Marine Environment

Lucy Smith

Director General, Strategy and Change

Professor Sir Robert Watson

Former Chief Scientific Adviser

Dr Iain Williams

Former Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser

Katrina Williams

Director-General, International and Borders

Dr Kay Williams

Head of International Chemicals and Nanotechnology