One of the architects of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, resources minister Therese Coffey, has been handed a promotion within Defra by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Coffey, who was a vocal supporter of Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign, has served in the Department since her appointment as Under Secretary of State in 2016. Last night it was confirmed that she has been promoted to Minister of State.
Dr Coffey will report to the newly appointed Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, alongside the returning Minister of State George Eustice. The appointment of a junior minister has not yet been announced but the previous junior minister, David Rutley, was with Ms Villiers at environment questions yesterday (26 July) so appears likely to remain in post. Nothing has yet been stated about whether the Defra minister in the Lords, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, will remain in post or not.
The Department has yet to confirm the responsibilities of each minister, but Dr Coffey’s continuity within Defra is like to ease some concerns that a wholesale government restructure could derail momentum for the Resources and Waste Strategy. The Strategy was put together under the leadership of Michael Gove, who has now left the Department, although he remains in a key government role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Senior figures within the resources and waste industry have been keen to highlight the importance of maintaining the direction of travel set through the Strategy.
Jacob Hayler, executive director for the Environmental Services Association (ESA), has written to the new Secretary of State to underscore the importance of the Strategy to the sector.
“The government’s recent consultations on producer responsibility for packaging, consistent collections, a plastics packaging tax, and a deposit return scheme all present a bold and exciting direction of travel for our industry.”
He wrote: “The government’s recent consultations on producer responsibility for packaging, consistent collections, a plastics packaging tax, and a deposit return scheme all present a bold and exciting direction of travel for our industry. One which our members – as the key businesses working to deliver your vision – want to help government grasp.”
In the letter he also called on Ms Villiers for collaboration to ensure the delivery of the strategy.
“In order to unlock investment, long-term policy and regulatory clarity is required. It is therefore vital that the industry, with its track record for delivering investment in UK recycling and recovery, has the opportunity to work with you on the development of detailed proposals under the Resources and Waste Strategy.”
Simon Ellin, chair of The Recycling Association praised Mr Gove and Dr Coffey for their role in developing the Strategy and called for the measures set out in the Strategy ‘not to be diluted’ going forward.
He said: “From getting producers to pay the cost of recycling, to providing funding for local authority collections, and importantly improving the quality of material collected for recycling, the Resources & Waste Strategy is a comprehensive and sensible plan that unites almost all of the stakeholders involved.
“While much of the detail is still being worked on and consulted on, I call on the new Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and ministerial team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to continue the good work of their predecessors and if possible, speed up implementing it.”