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Non Executive Directorships

Chair of Air Quality Expert Group

Location: National + London meetings

Date Posted: 17/04/2019

Closing Date: 10/06/2019

Vacancy Description

Introduction

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) invites applications for the position of Chair of the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) which is comprised of 14 members in addition to the Chair.

AQEG plays a vital role in providing advice to officials and key office holders in Government and the Devolved Administrations (DAs) on the evidence base supporting air quality policies and operations. The independent advice from AQEG helps shape Defra’s evidence base to robustly support policy development and implementation. While AQEG’s primary role is in the provision of scientific advice to assist Defra’s strategic vision, members and the Chair are also called upon to provide ad hoc advice on occasion. The role of the AQEG is particularly significant at present as Government begins to implement its Clean Air Strategy

The position of Chair requires significant expertise in a field of science relevant to air quality in addition to demonstrable strategic leadership and vision. Candidates should be able to show exceptional knowledge of the range of the Committee’s work and high levels of technical expertise in at least one of the areas detailed within the role specification below.

The Chair will be appointed in July 2019 and the role is scheduled to commence in November 2019 with a suggested handover from the outgoing Chair between July and October 2019.

What is AQEG

The Air Quality Expert Group was formed in 2001 and was converted from a Non Departmental Public Body to an Expert Committee to Defra in 2011.

AQEG has a remit to provide independent, expert advice on the science of air quality across Government and the Devolved Administrations, including the sources, behaviour, levels and mitigation options for key air pollutants.

AQEG’s main functions are:

• Advising and working collaboratively with officials and key office holders in Defra and the Devolved Administrations; other delivery partners and public bodies; and EU and international technical expert groups;

• Liaising with Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA), supporting them as appropriate during emergencies and contributing to the Defra Science Advisory Council’s annual report;

• Contributing to the development of the air quality evidence base: analyse, interpret and synthesise evidence; provide judgements on quality and relevance; suggest priority areas for future work; and advise on Defra’s implementation of the air quality evidence plan (or equivalent);

• Give advice on current and future levels, trends, sources and characteristics of air pollutants in the UK;

• Horizon scanning and advising Government on new threats, opportunities and external variables, such as changes in international policy or specific events, with a potentially perverse impact on air quality in the UK and advising on mitigation strategies where appropriate;

• Provide independent advice and operate in line with the Government’s Principles for Scientific Advice and the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees (CoPSAC).

AQEG delivers advice predominantly through reports and advice notes. Published reports and advice notes can be found at http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/aqeg/publications.

AQEG currently has 14 members, including the Chair, in addition to ad-hoc and ex-officio members and observers. AQEG is supported by a Defra secretariat.

AQEG draws on existing information and undertakes its own analysis to provide expert advice to the Defra CSA and Ministers. It may be required to give advice to Ministers and Defra officials on air quality matters on an ad hoc basis as and when requested. It will need to maintain close working relationships with all relevant Government departments and the Devolved Administrations to support its advice to Ministers and maintain members’ awareness of policy developments and requirements.
For further information about the Air Quality Expert Group you may wish to visit the web site: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/aqeg

The Role

The Chair will be responsible for steering and developing the overall work of the group. They will also represent the group externally and to ministers and promote its strategy and overall direction. The Chair’s key responsibilities include:

• Showing excellent vision and leadership to a diverse group of specialists working together to advise Government on a wide range of issues relating to air quality;

• Representing the group within the research community and other advisory committees and championing Defra’s air quality evidence base;

• Working with Defra officials on the implementation of key policies such as the Clean Air Strategy (CAS) and updating ministers as required;

• Handling press queries relating to AQEG reports and, on occasion, the science underpinning high profile media attention relating to Defra air quality policy.;

• Chairing meetings and determining procedures for the group;

• Overseeing the work of AQEG members, providing appropriate support and ensuring appropriate management within the organisation;

• Providing impartial and independent input to discussions;

• Fostering close working relationships with key experts, including academics and institutions from the UK and Internationally.

The workload will vary depending upon the requirements of Defra and the DA’s and events that may impact on their needs for expert advice on air quality. As a guide, the Chair will be required to work approximately 2 days per month, chairing 4-6 meetings per year. The maximum workload is 40 days per year.
The Chair must be willing to travel to meetings within the UK

Person Specification

1: LEADERSHIP
A proven track record in a position of leadership within a high profile unit or organisation; An ability to lead and engage positively in debate with a diverse team of influential people and facilitate effective decision-making through consensus; An ability to command the respect and confidence of Ministers, the CSA, senior officials, senior scientists and other stakeholders.

2: SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND REPUTATION
Strong and current background in the science of air pollution or a closely related environmental or physical science, which reflects some aspects of the knowledge represented in AQEG (see the knowledge area list below). Understanding the interface between science and air quality policy with a demonstrable ability to strategically assess the application of evidence to support policy-making and implementation.

3: COMMUNICATION
Excellent communication in a straightforward, truthful and candid way with a proven ability to negotiate, persuade and influence at all levels from ministers to members of the public and the press. Exceptional ability to articulate options available while taking into account the environmental, socioeconomic, and political impacts.

4: DECISION-MAKING
Ability to facilitate effective decision-making and chair complex multidisciplinary discussions, drawing out the views of all members, arriving at consensus, being clear on uncertainty and producing relevant and clear outcomes.

5: PROBLEM SOLVING
Proven expert ability to process and interpret complex information; well-developed analytical reasoning skills and judgment, and the ability to provide intellectual leadership and create a pro-active approach to problem solving and a high level of professionalism;

6: NETWORKING AND COLLABORATING
An ability to proactively build a strong network of collaborative relationships with a range of partners from varied scientific disciplines, the business community and civil society, where relevant, and across government in order to advance and champion the work of AQEG and to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to air quality science.

Additional Information

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

• Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest, Conduct and Political Activity Questionnaire)
• Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Monitoring Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned to the following address by the closing date: 12:00 (midday) on 10 June, 2019. Email to aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk quoting reference AQEG_Chair_2019.

For further information please email: aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk

We actively encourage applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. Defra is a Disability Confident employer.

How to Apply

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

• Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest, Conduct and Political Activity Questionnaire)

• Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Monitoring Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned to the following address by the closing date: 12:00 (midday) on 10 June, 2019. Email to aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk quoting reference AQEG_Chair_2019.

For further information please email: aq.secretariat@defra.gov.uk

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