Truss replaces Paterson at Defra

15th July 2014


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  • UK government

Author

Susan Smith

Liz Truss has been promoted to Defra secretary in the cabinet reshuffle, replacing Owen Paterson.

Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, was previously a minister in the education department. Prior to entering parliament, Truss was deputy director at the think-tank Reform, having previously worked at Shell.

According to the Public Whip website, Truss has endorsed 48% of policies aimed at preventing climate change, and voted in favour of measures to incentivise low-carbon electricity generation on 40% of occasions.

She has also opposed solar farms, welcoming the announcement by Decc in April that it would limit their expansion in the countryside. “I have been pressing Decc for action to be taken to ensure agricultural land is not lost to acres of solar panels. Not only do they jeopardise out food security, but the large scale sites that have been proposed in my constituency impact considerably on local communities,” she said.

“There are so many more options for the sitting of solar panels, for example utilising existing industrial locations and commercial premises, not to mention residential roofs.”

Commenting on the appointment of Truss, IEMA executive director Martin Baxter said: “The challenge for the new environment secretary will be ensuring effective environmental protection which requires a long-term approach, when set against the short-term political backdrop of the impending general election.

“There’s a real opportunity to build on her previous role as education minister by tackling the environment and sustainability skills gap in business, which will hamper the ability of companies to compete and make the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy.”

Green groups largely welcomed the sacking of Paterson. He became Defra secretary in 2012, but his appointment was criticised because of his reported climate change scepticism. Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said that prime minister David Cameron was right to replace Paterson, describing him as the “worst” environment secretary the UK has had for decades.
 “Paterson has willfully ignored scientific evidence on climate change, championed pesticide firms instead of bees and massively underinvested in flood defences, leaving thousands of households at risk of future flooding.
 His successor must show they are serious about safeguarding Britain's environment and protecting the nation from the growing threat of global climate change,” said Atkins.

Meanwhile, climate change minister Greg Barker has announced he is leaving his post at Decc and will not stand for re-election at the general election. Amber Rudd, Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, replaces Barker at the energy department. Michael Fallon has also left Decc, to become foreign secretary. Fallon, who combined his role at Decc with one at the business department, is replaced by Matt Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk.

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