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Environment and Economy Directorate

Our Environment and Economy services are involved with a diverse range of activities as detailed further below which are designed to make Dorset strong and successful and a great place to live, work and visit. In essence our aim is to make the most of our unique, natural, historic and built environment in ways which benefit our residents, communities and visitors, including their health, wellbeing and prosperity.

Introduction to Environment and Economy

We have a joint focus on the environment and the economy of Dorset through helping to ensure it remains prosperous and grows in a sustainable way.  This includes ensuring that our environment is healthy and well managed so that we can continue to harness the many benefits it offers; our infrastructure, including green infrastructure, provides what we need; our Highways help to keep Dorset moving; the Superfast Dorset initiative enables us to be connected (at better broadband speeds); and our Travel services help to ensure people can access school, college, work and leisure facilitating a sustainable public transport network between the main towns and alternatives within and between communities.

The County Council's customer service operation and contact centre is a key part of the Directorate through the Dorset Direct team.

The Directorate also ensures that we are using digital technology across the council to make it as easy as possible to access our services and to be as productive as possible ourselves; as well as making sure we only keep those properties we need and they are fit for purpose, well maintained & managed.

Last but by no means least we provide the County Council's input into the coordination of any local civil emergency, whether from flooding or major incident - we are available to other public bodies including Police and Fire 24/7, 365 days of the year.

The Director for the Environment and Economy is Mike Harries.  The Directorate is responsible for the following service areas:

  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Highways including Emergency Planning
  • ICT and Customer Services.


The Economy Service is responsible for a range of functions that are important to Dorset's economy but which also underpin the three core principles of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social needs. The Service Director is Matthew Piles. 

Dorset Travel

Dorset Travel organises and facilitates travel services for around 10,000 Dorset residents. We do this to meet statutory obligations to school children, including for Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND), and for vulnerable adults to attend day centres. We also support public transport in Dorset that cannot be provided economically, principally in rural areas, accounting for around one million journeys per year.  We provide advice and support to Community transport in Dorset on their own account and for which grant funding may be available. The county council's passenger transport fleet numbers around one hundred vehicles, which are used for the full range of activities. We also contract commercial operators for provision of around five hundred return vehicle journeys per day.

Superfast Dorset

Superfast Dorset is a partnership programme working to roll out faster, more reliable broadband across the county.  Across the whole of Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole, the programme will provide:

  • 97% of Dorset premises with access to superfast broadband (at least 24Mbps)
  • even more premises with access to fibre broadband (this will offer a range of speeds above 2Mbps)
  • 100% of premises with access to greater than 2Mbps, some via other broadband technologies

Our partners include each of the local authorities in Dorset, Government and BT.  We are also developing an 'ultra fast' broadband programme based on key employment sites, including the Dorset Enterprize Zone, Dorset Innovation Park at Winfrith. 

For more information you can visit the Superfast Dorset web pages, sign up for our e-newsletters, find us on Facebook Superfast Dorset (opens in a new window), or join the conversation Twitter @superfastdorset (opens in a new window)

Economy, Planning and Transport Service

Economy, Planning and Transport service is responsible for promoting the principles and practice of sustainability in Dorset County Council and across the County. There are four teams within Economy, Planning and Transport:

We develop and implement economic development strategies, plans for and regulates minerals and waste developments and prepares and implement transport strategies and provides the formal views of the Highway Authority as statutory consultee on planning applications. We also offer transport modelling and data collection expertise used by Dorset County Council and a range of other organisations.

The service seeks to advise and support sustainable development in ways that make the most of, protect and improve Dorset's natural and historic environment. We improve the accessibility of communities and the delivery of services. The service develops and maintains the County Council's external relations and promotes Dorset's interests at sub-regional, national and European levels.

Business Support Services

Business support is responsible for supporting all services within the directorate and some other areas of the wider county council. 


The Environment Service covers strategy, policy and operations across both the natural and built environment and combines front-line service delivery in coast and countryside services with the key corporate function of property management (Dorset Property).

Coast and Countryside Service

The Coast & Countryside Service provides a range of services combining specialist environmental advice (on ecology, archaeology, heritage, landscape, coastal management, sustainable development and energy) with operational management of green space (countryside sites, Country Parks, Rights of Way, highway verges, grounds services and arboriculture), often delivered in partnership with others.

Dorset Property

Dorset Property provides property services to all parts of the county and other public sector clients. The Estate & Assets Service provides the County Council's 'corporate landlord' function, under which we hold property budgets and responsibilities as part of the strategy of rationalising the property estate and ensuring effective cost control and space and utilisation for property and accommodation. The Buildings & Construction Service delivers design, construction, repair and maintenance services to mainly internal but also external clients (other public bodies, schools and academies) to ensure that their property assets meet their needs throughout their lifecycle.

Dorset Highways including Emergency Planning

Dorset County Council is the highway authority for Dorset, not including Bournemouth and Poole, and is responsible for maintaining roads and pavements except the A31 and A35 trunk roads, which are managed by Highways England (opens in a new window)

Dorset Highways manages over 2,500 miles of roads, as well as being responsible for everything associated with the highway such as bridges & structures (including subways), cycleways, drainage, flood management, street lighting, bus stops, road signs & markings, traffic lights, speed limits, traffic calming measures, parking services, and vehicle maintenance.  The service also works closely with our Coast & Countryside Service, which is responsible for managing around 3,000 miles of public rights of way.

We are primarily responsible for:

  • co-ordinating planned works, emergency works and events in order to minimise disruption
  • maintaining our highway in a suitable condition against the budget we have available
  • designing programmes of work to reduce the potential for road traffic collisions
  • managing improvements and additional infrastructure on the highway network (including new developments)

Our highway network is the largest, most valuable and most visible community asset that Dorset County Council is responsible for. It is used daily by the majority of people living within the county - for walking, cycling and for travelling by car, bus or taxi - and is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental well-being of all members of the community.

We are based between County Hall in Dorchester, our main depot in Charminster and at local depots around the county. We also provide a diverse range of services for customers, including vehicle maintenance and sign manufacturing.  Further information can be found on:

Travel Dorset Homepage

Travel Dorset - Highways (Roads, Driving & Parking)

Contact Dorset Highways and Report Road Problems

Emergency Planning

The Emergency Planning Service delivers the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Act, regulations, protocols and other key work that is required for contingency and resilience planning.  The team supports the County Council and its Directorates and services to meet its corporate objectives by enhancing civil resilience preparedness within the community and environment of Dorset. The service maintains a 24/7 on-call function to enable the activation and coordination of Dorset County Council resources and also the coordination of other

services including the voluntary agencies who play a significant role during emergencies.

ICT and Customer Services

The service provides the strategic lead for customer services and digital technology for the council as well as operational services that support the council's front-line services.  The service's responsibilities include:

  • Digital and customer services strategy
  • Technology strategy
  • Dorset Direct - the council's customer services centre
  • Operational ICT services covering all aspects from networks and servers through desktop and mobile to business application support

Digital Strategy

We aim to become a Digital Council.  We have been pursuing a programme of improving customer service and reducing costs through making our top transactions, such as reporting a missed bin or pothole, available on-line through our highly rated web site, which we share with the district and borough councils in Dorset.

We are currently developing a new strategy, which will aim to accelerate this progress but, more fundamentally, position the council to make the most of user or customer-centred design and digital technology to make a greater difference to people's lives.

Technology Strategy

We have adopted a 'cloud first' technology strategy, under which we rent our technology services - such as server capacity and office software - rather than buying and running them ourselves. We have embarked on our cloud journey and we are already seeing benefits in how we can share and collaborate with other partners more easily than when services were 'locked' in our network.

Dorset Direct

We are very proud of our customer services centre, which deals with telephone, email and online (including social media and webchat) contact for most of the council's services including adult social care, highways and the Dorset Waste Partnership.  As well as providing high levels of customer satisfaction, we use the insight we get into why people are contacting us to drive improvement across council services.

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