29 July 2019 by Steve Eminton

Positive signs in new Defra ministerial line-up

One thing is clear, as the UK’s newly-led government goes headlong into the Brexit challenge, UK industry is in for a turbulent time this autumn.

However, despite concerns about movement of goods and the impact of Brexit on economic performance, there is a positive note to come out the new government line-up in terms of the environment – subject to one important caveat.

Those who follow the development of environmental policy relating to waste and recycling at government level should take some strong comfort from the fact that Michael Gove, who had emerged as a champion of a sustainable approach to waste management with a new policy and suite of proposals remains at a top level. His Chancellor of the Duchy post will give him a voice in the Cabinet and a close hand to steer policy.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers needs to prove her credentials at Defra

Of course, Brexit will dominate this summer and into the autumn, but if the UK leaves as promised on October 31, then normal service can resume.


So, the caveat has to be that the new Environment Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, proves herself to be an enthusiast for environmental topics and a deliverer in terms of legislation. Ms Villiers has proved herself very adept at dealing with tricky issues, largely in her Northern Ireland post. Plus, she has also grappled with transport at issues and will have encountered environmental requirements in that post.


The positive note that the waste and recycling sector can take, is that the pressure remains on government, primarily over single-use plastics, to have a waste and resources strategy that follows through. Throw in Therese Coffey, who is well-immersed in the strategy, and the enthusiasm for the environment that will come from Zac Goldsmith as a junior minister, and the Department should have enough political oomph to get the strategy contents through.

The waste sector has had a hectic few months responding to the various policy documents. Much more work looks to lie ahead as more consultations emerge and Bills and policy documents take shape.


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