Scotland’s recently re-elected first minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed Roseanna Cunningham as her environment secretary, following Richard Lochhead’s resignation.
A popular politician at Holyrood, Lochhead’s decision to step down after nine years as a cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and environment related to family matters, with the BBC reporting that his wife Fiona has breast cancer.
In an exchange of letters with Sturgeon, Lochhead (above) said he now wishes “to focus more on supporting Fiona and also my young sons, Angus and Fraser”.
Sturgeon said in her response: “You have served under both Alex Salmond and myself with distinction, and you leave a rich and enduring legacy of achievement in your policy portfolio.”
The Resource Association posted on social media: “We extend our best wishes to Richard Lochhead and family and thank him for his excellent service to the resources agenda over many years.”
Lochhead, who will continue in his role as MSP for Moray, recently pledged to cut the country’s food waste by a third by 2025 as part of a circular economy strategy.
He also commissioned further research from Zero Waste Scotland on a potential bottle deposit return scheme and has discussed potential for UK-wide implementation with his UK counterpart Liz Truss.
In her reshuffled cabinet, Sturgeon appointed Cunningham (pictured) to head the new department of environment, climate change and land reform.
Cunningham’s portfolio will cover environmental protection, flood prevention, water quality, physical and marine environment, sustainable development, biodiversity, natural heritage, environmental and climate justice, national parks and Scottish water.
“As well as driving forward work to allow Scotland to meet its ambitious climate change targets, Roseanna will have responsibility for implementation of our radical land reform agenda,” Sturgeon said.
Cunningham, MSP for Perthshire South & Kinross-shire, posted on social media: “Very pleased with my new environment, climate change and land reform brief and looking forward to catching up with old friends.”
Viridor head of media and public affairs Martin Grey described Lochhead as a “real pioneer of the circular economy”.
“He believed very passionately that waste was more than an environmental issue, it was absolutely fundamental to making a successful Scotland.
“If there was one difficulty it was that his brief was so large. The reshaping of government with the creation of a single environment brief at cabinet secretary level is recognition of the importance they have given to this area.
“We are sad to see him go but Roseanna Cunningham, who was a former junior environment minister, knows the brief very well. She’s very well respected and has been to a number of our facilities previously. We have full confidence that she can progress it.”
Thank u to great people across Scotland I worked with. Hugely rewarding. Sometimes tough. Always absolute privilege. https://t.co/HKjp6iFMlP— Richard Lochhead (@RichardLochhead) 18 May 2016
We extend our best wishes to @RichardLochhead and family and thank him for his excellent service to the resources agenda over many years.— Resource Association (@Res_Association) 18 May 2016