Former Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been confirmed as the new Environment Secretary, replacing Thérèse Coffey.
The Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire is moving from his role as Health Secretary to become the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
Barclay also replaced Thérèse Coffey as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care when she became the Environment Secretary in October 2022. He becomes the fifth Environment Secretary in four years after Coffey’s resignation earlier today.
Barclay was previously appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office between 15 September 2021 and July 2022. He was also Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from 16 November 2018 to 31 January 2020 and Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care from January to November 2018.
Thérèse Coffey confirmed she was stepping down from the role in a letter posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, following speculation after she was seen entering 10 Downing Street.
Coffey, the first female MP for Suffolk Coastal, succeeded Ranil Jayawardena as Secretary of State for Defra on 25 October 2022.
The former deputy prime minister under Liz Truss previously held a ministerial post in Defra between 25 July 2019 and 8 September 2019.
Following Boris Johnson becoming prime minister, Coffey was promoted from her junior minister role to Work and Pensions secretary. A position she held until Liz Truss became PM on 6 September when she was made Health secretary and appointed deputy prime minister.
Writing on X, Coffey said: “I have written to the Prime Minister today to step down from government. It has been a privilege to serve him and indeed five Conservative Prime Ministers as a minister. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents of Suffolk Coastal.”
In a letter, Rishi Sunak thanked Coffey for “years of dedicated ministerial service and your friendship to me personally”.
Responding to the news, City to Sea’s Policy Manager, Steve Hynd, commented: “The appointment of Steve Barclay is the 6th new Environment Secretary in the last five years.
“What private business, the British public and our natural world urgently needs is consistency in leadership and to take ambitious steps to tackling some of the big environmental issues of the day, like the plastic crisis.
“Instead, we have flagship environmental policies like Deposit Return Schemes being watered down and kicked down the road beyond the next election.
“We strongly urge Steve Barclay to get a grip of the situation, and to set ambitious and legally binding targets around key areas such as plastic reduction and reusable packaging so that we all, business, citizens and the natural world alike, have the confidence in the direction of travel this government is trying to take us.”
CIWM says it welcomes Steve Barclay as the new Defra Secretary and looks forward to developing a “close working relationship” with him to support the UK economy in making progress towards the 2050 net zero target and accelerate the development of a more circular economy.
Lee Marshall, Policy & External Affairs Director, commented: “CIWM applauds recent progress made by the UK government with the release of the Simpler Recycling, digital waste tracking and carriers, brokers and dealers reforms.
“Alongside packaging EPR (extended producer responsibility), these changes will set the policy context for household and commercial waste management for the next decade and beyond, so it is vital that the new secretary maintains recent momentum on the resources and waste part of their brief.
“There are still key aspects of the reforms that require more detail in order to drive change and unlock investment from the sector.”
CIWM believes the EPR Scheme Administrator formation, statutory guidance on Simpler Recycling, and digital waste tracking reforms are just some of the items that should be at the top of his agenda.
The UK Government has previously committed to further EPR reforms on other waste streams such as textiles, WEEE and batteries. CIWM is urging the new Secretary of State to get his department working and consulting on these areas as soon as possible.