Defra has announced its ministers’ responsibilities, with Rory Stewart in charge of resources.
It comes three weeks after prime minister David Cameron moved Stewart (pictured) to the department following a majority Conservative win in the general election.
Defra has clarified that Stewart will be responsible for resource and environmental management as well as:
- natural environment
- floods and water
- rural affairs
- lead responsibility for the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission deputy for the secretary of state on environment council
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) welcomed Stewart’s confirmation and deputy chief executive Chris Murphy said it would be seeking an early meeting to discuss the priority issues facing the waste and resource management industry.
“With the right support, our industry has a significant contribution to make to economic growth and jobs, resource and energy security, and progress towards a circular economy,” said Murphy. “To do this, however, we need government leadership and vision. We will be emphasising the need for proactive engagement in the development of the new EU Circular Economy package and for action closer to home on issues including recycling performance, waste crime, and infrastructure.
“Given the importance of resource efficiency, resilience and security to sustainable economic growth, CIWM will also speaking out against any further significant cuts to Defra’s budget, and calling for more visible co-ordination of policy in this area between Defra and other key departments, including the Treasury.”
ESA’s executive director Jacob Hayler, said: “A key environmental priority for the next Government should be to find a way for us to meet our 2020 household recycling targets during a difficult period for local authority finances. The industry is keen to help the Government solve this conundrum as well as other issues affecting our sector.”
Number 10 had previously confirmed that the number of Defra ministers was cut from four to three, with Lord de Mauley losing his position as under-secretary of state for natural environment and science.
Liz Truss remains as environment secretary, with her responsibilities including EU and international relations, emergencies and departmental administration.
George Eustice is responsible for food and farming, animal health and welfare, marine and fisheries, science and innovation and better regulation, after being promoted to department minister after the election.
He will also take lead responsibility for the Rural Payments Agency, Fera, Cefas and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, and act as deputy for the secretary of state on Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble, recently announced as Defra Lords spokesman, takes lead responsibility for biosecurity strategy, commercial projects, landscape and climate change adaptation.
He has a smaller Defra portfolio than his predecessor Lord de Mauley so is not included as one of the department’s three ministers. Gardiner’s main title is government deputy chief whip.
Stewart was unveiled as parliamentary undersecretary of state at Defra on 12 May, replacing Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson, who lost his seat in the election.
His background includes a stint at the Foreign Office in the diplomatic service and as a regional co-ordinator following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is also an author, and wrote an account of his experiences walking solo across Afghanistan in early 2002.