5720 - Planning Principal Adviser - Major Casework

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

Summary of the Role

This is an exciting opportunity to make a strong contribution to Natural England’s engagement in planning work, including some of the most important development proposals in the country.  The role has a particular focus on advising Natural England’s operations teams on our engagement with Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, or NSIPs.  NSIPs are major planning schemes that present both challenges and significant opportunities for the natural environment.  They cover a wide range of proposals, from renewable energy to water resources, ports, airports and major new road and rail schemes.

Working with colleagues in both your team and across the organisation, you will help ensure that the natural environment is fully considered through the planning process, seeking to maximise gains for nature.  Our aim is to ensure that all development is truly sustainable, not only protecting what we have but also contributing to nature recovery.

Role Description

This exciting role will work within the Flexible Casework Team in Natural England.  The team is focused on managing and advising on a portfolio of the highest priority development and infrastructure casework in Area Teams, and this role will have a particular focus on providing advice on NSIPs.  Through engaging with stakeholders on developments in more non-statutory pre-application work we will deliver better environmental outcomes and customer service.  As other higher priority casework emerges the Team’s portfolio will flex and change to ensure we are managing the highest priority casework.  The team will be involved in our normal cost recovery processes to support its costs.

The Principal Adviser will work with our Area Teams on high priority major development and infrastructure casework on land and sea, and play an important part in shaping Natural England’s response.  The post-holder will provide leadership and oversight to the Area Teams, enabling them to respond to planning consultations/ marine licence applications and associated environmental assessments, and provide planning advice, both internally and externally.  The Principal Adviser will work across a number of internal teams to ensure that all aspects of casework are well managed, including risks, legal challenges, communications and stakeholder management.  You will liaise, as required, with senior management to ensure the organisation is well sighted on relevant casework and associated risks.

The post-holder will work with our planning Advisers and national Specialists to contribute to wider networks, building effective working relationships with national teams and other Area Teams.  As a Principal Adviser 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

  • Work collaboratively across the organisation to establish the Flexible Casework Team as a positive resource for all teams handling and supporting complex and high priority casework.
  • Provide expert technical advice to operations teams on casework and spatial plans, including environmental impact and habitats regulations assessments, with a particular focus on NSIP cases.
  • Providing guidance and support in the resolution of specific case issues/ thematic areas.
  • Providing guidance and support to ensure that across the team, cost recovery practices are being used to ensure that the team is effectively supporting its costs.
  • Quality assure and support major infrastructure and other planning casework, as set out in Natural England’s non-financial scheme of delegation.
  • Work with project teams to support the effective case handling and delivery of timely and evidence-based advice, attending meetings and public inquiries/hearings as appropriate.
  • Manage risks and resolve issues as they arise, escalating and briefing upwards as required.
  • Oversee and proactively engage with key partners and customers in case handling to ensure effective communications and excellent stakeholder relationships.
  • Work with partners and national staff to identify and disseminate lessons learnt that can improve future casework delivery.
  • Develop the capability and capacity of case teams through mentoring, coaching, and contributing to relevant learning and development opportunities, especially in the delivery of Natural England’s advice on NSIPs.

Knowledge, Skills & Experience  

Specific knowledge, skills and experience required: 

  • The ability to see the big picture, so you can steer sustainable development work within the context of the organisation’s vision, mission and aims, and help colleagues understand how their work relates to and supports this.
  • The ability to build collaborative relationships with colleagues (both internally and externally) to help make things happen and deliver outcomes, including with senior leaders. 
  • Experience of leading significant change, and maximising resource efficiency and effectiveness through a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Ability to direct, coach and support staff to deliver on sustainable development objectives.
  • The ability to resolve problems and manage risks that requires significant levels of judgement and interpretation with innovative solutions.  
  • Excellent planning, prioritisation, and organisational ability to manage complex delivery areas with competing demands.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills. 
  • Robust and current knowledge of relevant legislation and guidance and how to apply and interpret it to NE’s activities and duties.
  • Strong understanding of environmental protection in England and the legislation that underpins them.
  • Demonstrable experience of UK ecology with a broad understanding of priority habitats and species.


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 which 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:

  • Personal effectiveness
  • Work delivery
  • Creating resilient landscapes and seas
  • Putting people at the heart of the environment
  • Technical skills and knowledge

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.

Phil Reynolds, Manager, Flexible Casework Team, National Delivery

Email: phil.reynolds@naturalengland.org.uk

Mob: 07500 124003

01/03/2024, 23:55 hours

To be confirmed
Basic Check (BPSS)
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]

• Make and explain objective decisions which combine your professional judgement and evidence. [Expert]

• Share expertise and knowledge with people and networks so that you can develop together. [Expert]
Professional competency
Work delivery
• 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]
Professional competency
Creating resilient landscapes and seas
• Assess environmental impacts and identify appropriate avoidance, mitigation and/ or compensation measures. [Expert]

• Identify and apply relevant planning and environmental legislation, policies, and processes to deliver effective and proportionate evidence-based solutions and advice. [Expert]

• Understand and advise how biodiversity net gain can support strategic approaches to the natural environment, in the delivery of Local Nature Recovery Strategies and the Nature Recovery Network. [Expert]
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
Technical skills and knowledge
• Town Planning or other relevant degree or equivalent qualification or have equivalent level of applied experience [Essential].

• Strong knowledge of the natural environment including ecology, biodiversity, landscape and soils [Essential].

• Substantial technical expertise and applied experience of the Town and Country Planning system, legislation, national policy, and guidance [Essential].

• Strong experience and skills in assessing environmental impacts and opportunities of large complex developments and spatial plans to provide outcome-focussed solutions and advice [Essential].

• Strong knowledge of current domestic policies, legislative frameworks and drivers for the marine environment and coastal zone combined with a practical understanding of UK Marine Protected Areas [Desirable].
Natural England

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This Vacancy is closed to applications.