Job vacancy – environment champion (previous experience preferred)

Neil Grundon, deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management, gives his view on who should lead the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November.

Neil Grundon is deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management

They say you should be careful what you wish for… And recently I have been reminded of that.

I wished for Brexit and Boris finally delivered.

Neil Grundon is deputy chairman of Grundon Waste Management

I wished for an Environment Bill that would address what our industry really wants (and needs) and at last things are happening.

So can I make it three in a row? Because what I’d like next is someone to champion the environment, a heavy hitter who can get things done and who wants to really work with all of us to make a difference.

Given that we have the ‘gift’ of the COP26 United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow in November, all eyes will be on the UK to take a serious lead – we just need to find an individual to fill that vacancy.


Personally, I think Michael Gove would be a good bet. As a former environment secretary, he has the green credentials and the ability to grab the big issues by the scruff of the neck and do something about them.

Neil backs Michael Gove to fill the role of environment minister

I also have a bit of a soft spot for Mary Creagh who, as former Shadow Secretary of State for Environment and the previous chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, she certainly knows what she is talking about.

Zac Goldsmith would be a shoe-in but now he’s in the House of Lords and with a role in international development, I’m not sure he’ll have the time.

Or if we want a blast from the past, who better than Lord Deben (aka John Selwyn Gummer) who transformed the way we work by bringing in the landfill tax. As an ardent Remainer though, he’s probably not buying a ticket to Glasgow any time soon.

Given the conference is in Glasgow, it would be remiss of me not to name a Scot and I like the idea of David Tennant. Firstly, anyone who has played a Time Lord has to have some understanding of the subject matter, and secondly, because there will always be so many scientists attending, I love the idea we will have a real Dr Who in charge!

Decisions, decisions…

‘Lack of leadership’

According to former minister Claire O’Neill, who was due to head the summit until she was removed from her role last week, the current administration is showing a “huge lack of leadership and engagement” on the topic.

“If Sir David had a bit of spare time on his hands, it’s a job he could do blindfolded”

Neil Grundon

And if there is truth behind her claims that the cabinet sub-committee on the climate conference had not met since it formed in October, then I am sorely disappointed – it goes to underline the need for an environment champion even more.

This week I was briefly cheered up by the sight of Boris elbow-to-elbow with the esteemed Sir David Attenborough at the Science Museum on Tuesday as he launched the COP26 event.

If Sir David had a bit of spare time on his hands, then I’m sure it’s a job he could do blindfolded – but as a 93-year-old I think he’s allowed a little bit of downtime.

Whoever takes on this role, let’s hope the answer comes soon – we shall welcome them with open arms and be first in the queue to shake their hand. We just have to hope they will be there for the long run and come with open ears for fresh ideas.

And if this third wish of mine is granted…then I’ll have to find something else to get on my soapbox about.

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