One in, one out at Defra may spell trouble ahead

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:

Ever since Michael Gove revealed his ambition to become the next Conservative leader I knew he wouldn’t stay on long as environment secretary, regardless of the outcome of the leadership contest.

It’s a real shame given he achieved so much progress after years of stagnation across the resources policy agenda, and I understand he was often highly thought of by those who dealt directly with him. In a poll on RWW’s website an impressive 67% of respondents said he should have stayed on in the job.

Perhaps this is the new reality of British politics; where politicians chop and
change to head up a department that yesterday they knew little about.

It therefore may be unreasonable for the resources industry (or any other sector for that matter) to expect the top dog to stick around for a fixed parliamentary term. The nature of government is at best transient and at worst unstable. The resources community therefore needs to continue to provide clear succinct messaging to whoever is in charge.

And so we move on to Gove’s replacement – another Theresa – whose record on environmental policies doesn’t bode well. Theresa Villiers has previously voted against measures to tackle climate change and enforcing greater regulation of fracking activities, so I hope RWW readers can excuse my current scepticism that she is the best person to steer our circular economy revolution.

Villiers will be tasked with the important role of overseeing the forthcoming Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill and implementing the ambitious aims of the Resources & Waste Strategy, which no doubt will be fraught with difficult decisions and compromises between strong industry voices. But then the path to clean growth never did run smoothly.

Jo Gallacher is editor of Recycling & Waste World

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