Friends of the Earth chief executive Andy Atkins has announced that he will step down in the summer, after seven years in the top job.
In a statement, Atkins said he had loved working with the charity, but felt, with an election looming, that it was time for a new person to lead the charity forward.
Atkins alluded to the fact that he would be seeking to stay in the voluntary sector after leaving FoE but also had “a writing project and a painting project planned”. He also said that he would continue his association with the charity as one of FoE’s “most active supporters”.
During his time with the charity, he helped reintroduce a national pollinator strategy for native bee species with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). He also secured commitments from companies over fairer methods of tin mining and bought certainty to the British solar power industry after successfully challenging the government’s attempts to cut the feed-in-tariff.
Atkins’ “strong leadership” has also been cited as the reason for the charity's growth in volunteer numbers campaigning with the FoE, with the number doubling to over 200,000 in the last three years. The number of financial supporters also increased by 2,000 in the same period.
Atkins declared his pride at the achievements he and the charity had managed during his tenure.
“I’ve loved leading Friends of the Earth. But, after seven years, it’s the right time for me to move on to a new challenge and for someone else to lead the organisation into the next phase of its strategy under the new government.
“I’m proud of what Friends of the Earth – staff, volunteers, local groups and supporters - have achieved under my leadership," he said.
Roger Clarke, chair of FoE, confirmed that the recruitment process for a new chief executive has already begun.
“Although we are sad to lose Andy, this is now an opportunity to reach out to a range of inspiring candidates from broad and diverse backgrounds, who will help us to further build our supporter base and take us to the next level as an organisation,” he said.