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Owen Paterson replaces Caroline Spelman at Defra

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has been replaced by Owen Paterson as part of David Cameron’s ministerial reshuffle.

Caroline Spelman

Spelman’s departure has been linked in the media to a humiliating u-turn over the proposed sale of national forests which happened on her watch.

Despite last year’s review of waste policy, Defra has been criticised for its lack of ambition by senior figures in the sector during Spelman’s tenure.  

In June Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Steve Lee said Defra’s waste review was “as interesting as half a sink full of dirty water”.

Waste minister Lord Taylor is still thought to be in his post but a move cannot be ruled in what is proving to be a frantic day for many in Government.

Owen Paterson

Paterson, left, previously secretary of state for Northern Ireland, is MP for North Shropshire.

His personal profile makes no mention of any interest in the waste and resources agenda although he was shadow minister for agriculture in 2005-06.

As agriculture spokesman he says he became “an expert” on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry as well as travelling all over the North Atlantic to produce a green paper on fisheries.

His website says: “Owen is a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives.

“He believes that taxation and bureaucracy should be minimised to give people the best chance to exercise their talents. He is a strong defender of the United Kingdom. During the past 13 years, he has fought on behalf of his constituents for better health provision, local primary schools, improved transport services, post offices, local magistrates courts and against regional police forces.”

Positions he has held include

  • MP for North Shropshire from May 1997
  • Conservative Whip, 1999-2001
  • PPS to the Iain Duncan Smith, Sept 2001 - Oct 2003
  • Shadow minister for agriculture, Oct 2005 - Nov 2006
  • Shadow minister transport, Nov 2006 - July 2007
  • Shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland, July 2007 - May 2010
  • Secretary of state for Northern Ireland, May 2010 - September 2012

He cites his interests outside politics as:

  • Horses, racing and eventing
  • Treees
  • Architecture
  • History

The Environmental Services Association called on the new minister to put the waste and resource agenda at the heart of the department’s work.

ESA director of policy, Matthew Farrow said: “We look forward to working with Owen Paterson at an exciting time for our industry.”

He added that he would like to see thim focus on working across government to deliver progress in three areas:

  • Reforming public procurement to drive demand for recycled content in products
  • Working with HMT to develop tax policy options beyond landfill tax to drive waste up the hierarchy
  • More waste heat networks onto the housing/infrastructure agenda.

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