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Friday, July 15, 2016

Will it be back to the future with new Environment Secretary?

Whilst the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary has grabbed all the headlines, bear a thought for the future of the environment and rural affairs portfolio in the hands of one-time leadership contender, Andrea Leadsom.

According to the Guardian, Ms. Leadsom, the new environment secretary, supports foxhunting and once said she wanted to end farming subsidies. Her support for Brexit may well achieve the latter outcome.

The paper says that Leadsom’s new role has alarmed environmentalists, who highlighted her previous confusion about whether climate change is real and her support for a repeal of the hunting ban:

During her short leadership campaign, Leadsom pledged to hold a vote on bringing back foxhunting, saying it was “absolutely not proven to be in the interest of animal welfare whatsoever”. She said there was a “need to exterminate vermin, which foxes are” and called for a “proper, licensed regime”.

After becoming energy minister in 2015, Leadsom admitted having asked officials whether climate change was real.

“When I first came to this job one of my two questions was: ‘Is climate change real?’ and the other was ‘Is hydraulic fracturing safe?’ And on both of those questions, I am now completely persuaded,” she told the all-party parliamentary group on unconventional gas and oil in October last year.

However, since then she has repeatedly made it clear that decarbonising the energy supply is crucial and that this will not change after leaving the EU. “It is an essential responsibility that we hold towards our children and grandchildren, as the only way to effectively counter the threat of climate change,” she said this month.

Despite this assurance, Andrew Cooper, a Green party energy spokesman, said: “By appointing Andrea Leadsom – a woman who supports foxhunting and has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change – as environment secretary, and scrapping the Department for Energy and Climate Change entirely, May appears to be sending a clear message that fighting climate change is simply not on her agenda.”

Climate Change does not appear in any of the portfolio names of course, which is a worrying portent for the future direction of the government and there is a real danger that Leadsom will take us backwards on this crucial issue.

As for animal cruelty and specifically fox hunting, it may well be that the government does not have a majority to undo the key animal welfare measure that banned it in the first place, but having a pro-fox hunting minister does not bode well at all.
The Countryside Alliance has welcomed Ms Leadsom's appointment. I make no further comment.

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