After Thérèse Coffey resigned from her position as environment secretary yesterday, she has been replaced by former health secretary Steve Barclay.
Reacting to the move environmental compliance firm Ecoveritas urged the government to stay the course with its environmental reforms.
Chief strategy officer Andrew McCaffery said: “It’s incredibly hard for businesses to build a trusting relationship with Defra when the direction from the top is continually changing.”
“We would urge the government to take this opportunity to refocus and recommit to its environmental strategy – stay the course and let businesses plan for the future with confidence.”
He added: “We’ve already seen uncertainty plague the roll out of the single-use plastic ban and EPR. Now it is time for the new environment secretary to offer clarity on the future of his policy – not more uncertainty”.
Barclay was previously the chancellor of duchy of Lancaster and minister for the cabinet office between 15 September 2021 and July 2022. Other roles he has served in include as secretary of state for exiting the European Union.
In government, he has previously voted against financial incentives for low carbon emissions, and has consistently voted for selling state owned forests. However, he has voted for higher taxes on plane tickets.
Writing on X, formerly known as twitter, Barclay said he was “delighted” to be appointed secretary of state for Defra” and stated that he would work to back British farming and fishing, champion rural communities and protect the environment”.
Delighted to be appointed Secretary of State @DefraGovUK. I’ll be working to:
🚜 Back British farming and fishing.
🇬🇧 Champion rural communities.
🌳 Protect the environment.
As an MP for a rural area I know how important these issues are to many people up and down our country. https://t.co/BQvnjZXD69
— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 13, 2023
Campaigner and former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey drew attention to the job of Barclays’s wife:
“He’s the 7th Secretary of State for Defra in seven years. His 8th job in government in four years. His wife is Head of Major Infrastructure DCO planning at Anglian Water and I still haven’t figured out why government gave Cambridge City Council £277m to give Anglian Water to build a sewage works.”
He’s the 7th Secretary of State for @DefraGovUK in 7 years.
His 8th job in govt in 4 years
His wife is Head of Major Infrastructure DCO Planning at @AnglianWater
— Feargal Sharkey (@Feargal_Sharkey) November 14, 2023
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Greenpeace commented: “At the last election, the Conservative party was promising ‘the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth’. Now the in-tray for the incoming environment secretary is filling up faster than a river downstream from a sewage plant,” said Greenpeace UK head of policy Rebecca Newsom.
“The issues are stark and require urgent leadership: clean up our waterways, get a grip on plastic pollution, help to deliver breathable cities, ratify the Global Ocean Treaty and make farming deliver for nature,” she continued.
“That’s the success we need. So Steve Barclay needs to act fast, because unfortunately the British public are already seeing what failure looks like.”
Steve Barclay. Our 7th Environment Secretary in 7 years. We welcome him with the knowledge that with the right action, he can finally put a stop to the crappy situation our waters face by following our #EndSewagePollution manifesto 👉 https://t.co/TgxjRZ67eg pic.twitter.com/BXB1fmsO5j
— Surfers Against Sewage (@sascampaigns) November 13, 2023
Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage echoed the sentiment: “Steve Barclay. Our 7th environment secretary in 7 years. We welcome him with the knowledge that with the right action, he can finally put a stop to the crappy situation in our waters following our End Sewage Pollution manifesto.”