5719 - Operations Manager - Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

Grade 7
Full Time, Part Time, Part Time/Job Share
Environment & Sustainability

Summary of the role

This is an exciting opportunity to provide national leadership of Natural England’s engagement with some of the most important development proposals in the country.  Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, or NSIPs, are major planning schemes that present both challenges and significant opportunities for the natural environment.  They cover a wide range of proposals, from wind farms and solar energy to water resources, ports, airports and major new road and rail schemes.  

Natural England’s capability to respond to these major planning cases is being strengthened by additional roles in both area and national teams, and this new, national role will take responsibility for coordinating Natural England’s overall engagement with NSIP projects across the country.

Job description

Based in our National Planning Delivery Team, the Operations Manager for NSIPs will be responsible for coordinating the effective delivery of the pipeline of NSIP cases across the organisation.  The post-holder will play a key role in ensuring Natural England is able to provide an effective response to the challenges of both a growth in NSIP cases and external reform, managing risks and opportunities accordingly.

Working closely with both our local area teams and national teams, the role will provide strategic oversight of the pipeline of NSIP cases, ensuring there is a clear understanding of priorities and the support needed across the organisation to enable effective delivery.  Through a focus on the flexible, targeted use of resources, the post-holder will work with delivery teams to build the capability needed to provide high quality advice that secures strong environmental outcomes.  

The National Planning Delivery Team provides dedicated resource to help area teams with the highest environmental value planning casework.  As part of the cohort of new NSIP roles, an additional four Principal Advisers are being recruited into the team and will be managed directly by the Operations Manager for NSIPs.

As a Manager you will fulfil a key leadership role and will be expected to be a role model for Natural England’s ways of working.

Key accountabilities

  • Provide strategic oversight of the NSIP pipeline of cases, ensuring there is a clear focus across the organisation on the scale, complexity and opportunities of NSIP projects, and the delivery priorities in both area and national teams.
  • Provide inspirational and visible leadership, working closely with both area and national teams to ensure there is a sustained focus on NSIP delivery, and encouraging flexible working across teams to maximise the effective use of resources.
  • Lead and manage four Principal Advisers, supporting their ability to work flexibly with colleagues and delivery teams to provide the dedicated support needed to respond to the complexities of NSIP projects.
  • Act as a national focal point for strategic information and advice on NSIP delivery, and champion NSIPs as major opportunities to maximise gains for nature from planning casework.
  • Work closely with Sustainable Development Programme colleagues to ensure we are business ready to accommodate external NSIP reforms and respond to Government requests relating to the delivery of NSIP advice.
  • Work collaboratively with a dedicated working group to ensure the successful implementation of full cost recovery for the new NSIP roles from 2024/25.
  • Drive a culture that prioritises health and safety, staff wellbeing, inclusion, innovation, collaborative working, flexibility, and delivery.

Knowledge, Skills & Experience

  • The ability to build collaborative relationships with colleagues to help make things happen and deliver outcomes.
  • The ability to work closely with Managers and senior leaders to maximise delivery against agreed priorities.
  • The ability to lead by example, engage and support teams through change.
  • The ability to use insight and evaluation to improve our delivery and outcomes.
  • The ability to identify and manage significant organisational risks.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills.
  • Excellent planning, prioritisation, and organisational ability to manage complex delivery areas with competing demands.
  • The ability to demonstrate and embody Natural England’s values – of being ambitious, inclusive and collaborative, and of working with integrity.
  • Experience of leading significant change, and maximising resource efficiency and effectiveness through a culture of continuous improvement.


Natural England provides excellent opportunities for career progression, training and development tailored to your role. From induction to ongoing learning and development, everyone in Natural England is supported to develop their skills and capabilities. Everyone has 10 days to devote to personal learning and development, as well as an additional 3 days to volunteer.

You will have access to Civil Service Pension and benefits arrangements and generous leave allowances (33 day per year pro rata), as well as flexible working, to help you achieve a work-life balance that works for you and us.

You will have access to a range of benefits including discounts on shopping vouchers, cycle to work scheme, and childcare vouchers. You can also join the Civil Service Sport club which offer discounts on a range of sports and leisure opportunities as well as social events.

Natural England is a fantastic place to work, where difference is celebrated.

We’re committed to fairness and equality for all, so you feel valued for who you are and what you do. Our shared values help us work together to benefit the communities we serve. Our thriving employee-led diversity networks support our inclusive culture and contribute to our Diversity Action Plan.


It is Natural England policy to employ at the entry point of the salary range. 


Natural England is adopting hybrid working – which means our staff work from a flexible range of locations, encompassing home, offices (ours and our partners) and relevant sites. All new staff will be formally linked to one of our 25 offices across England and the expectation is that all new staff will be able to access their local office to be part of the community of staff in their geographical area. Full time staff are expected to attend their associated office for a minimum of one day a week.
Staff members are required to carry out all their duties working in this way and cannot do so from an overseas location at any time. Travel expenses will be paid if work related travel is required but does not apply to travel between home and your associated office.

National team roles can be linked with any Natural England office while Area Team roles will be linked with an office in the relevant geographic area.

View a map of our office locations here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/natural-england-office-locations.

How to Apply

We welcome and encourage applications from all communities.  Natural England is accredited to the Disability Confident Scheme, which denotes organisations that have a positive attitude towards disabled people.  Disabled applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the role at the shortlisting stage are guaranteed an invitation to interview.

If you require a reasonable adjustment at interview, or there is anything else you would like the panel to take into consideration, you should notify us of this at application stage where possible, or well in advance of your interview.  

This vacancy uses competency-based assessment.  We'll assess you against the competencies below during the selection process:

  • Technical/specialist knowledge
  • Leading and Managing People 
  • Putting People at the Heart of the Environment
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • Work Delivery

When completing the application form you should present relevant examples using the STAR format.  Give us an example of how you have demonstrated the competency (which can be work related or from another area of your life) and tell us about the Situation, the specific Task you had to undertake, the specific Actions you took, and the Result (both immediate and in a wider context) of your doing so.  

Please note that STAR format is not required when answering the Technical Skills & Knowledge competency.  

Examples should be given in no more than 250 words for each competency.

Do you want to make a difference for people and nature? Do you have a passion for securing significant environmental gains in the present and the future? Do you enjoy working in a team? Can you see yourself advising communities and customers to maximise gains for the Natural Environment?

If this appeals to you, a career at Natural England offers rewarding opportunities to secure environmental improvements and play your part in creating a better future for people and nature.

The priority work Natural England is delivering includes:

  • Establishing a Nature Recovery Network to help wildlife thrive.
  • Providing ways for people to better connect with nature, including green social prescribing.
  • Advising on plans for new developments to maximise gains for nature.
  • Monitoring environmental changes to identify and help reduce the effects of climate change.
  • Working with farmers and landowners to develop greener food production methods.

We are the Government’s advisor for the natural environment, playing a vital role in delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious vision which brings new opportunities to protect and enhance and to achieve real outcomes for the environment.

See more about the work of Natural England at:

Natural England staff are inclusive, motivated, and ambitious to achieve results for our environment, and for everyone.  We welcome and encourage applications from all communities and we operate a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the role.

Wherever possible we will accommodate requests for both full-time and part-time hours and other flexible working patterns to help employees achieve a good work/life balance and maintain their health and wellbeing.

Patrick McKernan, Deputy Director, National Planning Delivery Team

For further information about the role, please email patrick.mckernan@naturalengland.org.uk or mobile: 07500 817769.

01/03/2024, 23:55 hours

To be confirmed
Basic Check (BPSS)
Professional competency
Technical/specialist knowledge
• A relevant degree (e.g. environmental studies, planning, ecology, geography, or similar) or alternative qualification and/or suitable relevant experience.

• Excellent visible leadership skills with a track record of inspiring, developing and engaging high performing, diverse and inclusive teams.

• Good understanding of the NSIP planning process and resources needed to achieve effective delivery of complex casework.

• Experience of leading significant step change in delivery capability and partnership working, fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement.
Professional competency
Leading and Managing People
• Encourage, inspire and support people to be ambitious, creative and innovative, and to reflect, celebrate and learn lessons from their work. (Expert)

• Set clear plans and expectations for your team, explain reasons behind decisions, be clear on the outcomes to be achieved, and make things happen by sharing and delegating work to the right people. (Expert)

• Use performance management to set clear expectations around delivery, ways of working and personal development, and use the approach to motivate, challenge, review, and develop your team’s performance. (Practitioner)
Professional competency
Putting People at the Heart of the Environment
• Listen to and understand our diverse partners and customers so that you achieve the best outcomes for them and Natural England. (Expert)

• Nurture trusting partnerships and collaborate to achieve pragmatic outcomes that help deliver Natural England’s vision, mission and aims. (Expert)
Professional competency
Personal Effectiveness
• Be ambitious, identify and adopt ways to make improvements in your team and Natural England and inspire others to act. (Expert)

• Respect the diverse needs and experience of other people, be inclusive in everything you do. (Practitioner)

• Use clear and appropriate language, communication styles and techniques that engage your audience. (Expert)
Professional competency
Work Delivery
• See the big picture so you can set your team’s work within the context of the organisation’s vision, mission and aims, and help them understand how their work relates to and supports this. (Expert)

• Manage and deliver your work to meet agreed targets and deadlines. (Expert)

• Consider the financial implications of your work and seek income from our products and services. (Practitioner)
Natural England

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment.

This Vacancy is closed to applications.