CABINET RESHUFFLE: Theresa Villiers replaces Gove as Environment Secretary

Michael Gove has been promoted to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, while Theresa Villiers takes up his former post as Defra’s Environment Secretary, it has been announced.

Ms Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has previously held the role of Northern Ireland Secretary.

According to voting record website, They Work For You, Ms Villiers’ voting past reveals she has “generally” voted against a number of environmental measures, including measures on climate change, financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generationmethodsand “generally” voted against greater regulation for fracking.

Ms Villiers has also “consistently” voted for selling England’s state owned forests.

She has big shoes to fill; Michael Gove’s record at Defra has been seen by the resources and waste sector as the most positive and proactive in over a decade.

Although Ms Villiers voting record, to some, may suggest an inclination to vote against environmental measures, former Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s voting past paints a similar picture.

However, during his time at Defra, Mr Gove has executed a number of environmental initiatives, including the publication of a resources and waste strategy for England, which includes the implementation of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and a tax on single-use plastic packaging.

The first Environment Bill in twenty years was also announced during the Mr Gove’s tenure in the role, and only this week saw a number of updates coming from Defra.

Ms Villiers tweeted on her appointment: “I feel very honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to return to the Cabinet, taking on the role of secretary of state for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I have championed a number of the issues covered by the department, including animal welfare and improving air quality.

“My new responsibilities will therefore complement many of my local campaigns in my constituency, such as protecting our green spaces. I am already hard at work preparing for Defra questions in Parliament tomorrow morning.”

“Big shoes to fill”

The reshuffle in cabinet comes as prime minister Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative party, following the resignation Theresa May.

The Environmental Services Association said the incoming UK prime minister must be “bold” in implementing and where possible accelerating the proposals set out in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.

CIWM’s head of policy & communications, Pat Jennings, said: “CIWM welcomes Theresa Villiers to her new post as Defra Secretary of State at this critical time in UK politics.

“She has big shoes to fill; Michael Gove’s record at Defra has been seen by the resources and waste sector as the most positive and proactive in over a decade.

“We have a 25 year Environment Plan, a new Resources & Waste Strategy for England, and significant policy development around producer responsibility for packaging and deposit return, recycling consistency, incentives and funding to encourage market demand for recycled plastic, and waste crime.

“Mr Gove also worked hard to ensure that environmental protections will be maintained as we leave the EU.

“The sector has actively engaged with these policy developments and is keen for the momentum to be maintained by the new Secretary of State.”

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