Farmer confirmed as head of Natural England

Oxfordshire farmer Poul Christensen has been confirmed as chairman of Natural England.

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn made the announcement on Thursday (3 December).

“Poul has shown his passionate commitment to the natural environment and to protecting and enhancing our habitats and wildlife,” he said.

“I greatly look forward to working with him.”

The appointment begins immediately and lasts until 31 December 2012.

Mr Christensen has been acting chairman of the government’s landscape agency since the death of his predecessor Martin Doughty earlier this year.

The government announced Mr Christensen as the preferred candidate in August.

His formal appointment was welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association.

CLA president William Worsley said: “It will be a real asset to have someone with practical experience of land management at the helm.”

A diverse countryside would only be achieved by Natural England and rural landowners working together to achieve common goals, he added.

“As a farmer, Poul appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing rural land managers, so his appointment is a big step towards that ideal.”

Mr Christensen has been a partner in his family farming business since the 1960s. He has held a variety of advisory posts on agricultural issues from the 1970s onwards and chaired a number of groups, too.

These have included DEFRA’s Rural Development Service from 2005 and the UK Federation of Milk Groups from 1998-2000.

In 1994, he was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture and the commercial development of ADAS.