The UK’s High Commissioner to India will replace Paul Leinster as chief executive of the Environment Agency.

Sir James Bevan, who will take up his new post on 30 November, says: “One of the biggest challenges of our time is protecting the environment and promoting growth.

“The EA is a great organisation, which makes a great contribution to our country. It will be an honour and a privilege to lead it.”

EA chairman Sir Philip Dilley commented: “Sir James will lead the organisation with passion, energy and a clear commitment to continue the great work it does to protect and improve the environment and make it a better place for people and wildlife.”

David Rooke, the EA’s current executive director for flood risk management, will act as interim chief executive.

Paul Leinster, who held his role for 17 years, said: “I hope the EA continues to focus on delivering outcomes for people and the environment. That’s what it’s there to do. I’ll help my successor in any way I can but I won’t interfere.”

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