3 July 2019 by Steve Eminton

Johnson promises ‘to advance Defra policy work’

Boris Johnson yesterday (2 July) pledged he will keep progressing the work that Defra is doing, should he become Prime Minister.

Speaking at the launch of the Conservative Environment Network’s Manifesto at the Houses of Parliament, Mr Johnson – who is one of the two contenders to lead the Conservative Party and become Prime Minister – spoke about the need “to keep delivering on the environment”.

Boris Johnson discussing the environment yesterday evening in London

He recalled how as Mayor of London he had managed to reduce transport emissions in the capital. And, he highlighted the development of green technology, such as electric batteries in the midlands and the development of renewable wind technology.

“We should be unabashed about talking about the achievements we are making in the environment and the jobs that we are creating in the economy. There is massive scope for employment in green technologies of all kinds,” said Mr Johnson.

And, he praised the work of Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

“I pay particular tribute to the work that is being done by Defra”

Boris Johnson MP

Mr Johnson said: “I pay particular tribute to the work that is being done by Defra at the moment … and I just give you these final assurances that I will continue to advance all those agendas I have been talking about.. all the stuff that Defra is currently preparing, if I am lucky enough to be elected, I will make sure I consecrate and advance as well.”

Jeremy Hunt

The meeting also received a message from the other candidate, Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Mr Hunt commented on how there is a growing recognition of environmental issues, old and young, and how he had put climate change at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy, most recently working with the Italian government on COP26 (which will be held next year).

Mr Hunt added: “I am incredibly proud to be part of a government which has legislated to reach net carbon emissions by 2050. This is an ambitious target but it is crucial we achieve it.”


Secretary of State Michael Gove with Chelmsford MP, Vicky Ford

Michael Gove

Earlier the Manifesto launch meeting had also heard from Michael Gove. He highlighted the government’s work on the environment, including the development of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

And, Mr Gove emphasised that “economic growth and our planet are not two opposite poles but the two go intimately together” and that it was essential to make use of resources properly.” On the manifesto, he said: “There is still so much more to do which is why this manifesto is so important. It needs to be the spur to even greater action in the future.”


The director of the Conservative Environment Network, Sam Richards, said that the “CEN manifesto, this little green book is an optimistic document that recognises the scale of the challenge we face. It sets out a path of green infrastructure delivering economic regeneration and national restoration right across the country.”

It covers a lot of policies, which noted, Mr Richards build upon the work Mr Gove has done at Defra.


On waste and recycling, the CEN Manifesto says that families and individuals are “increasingly confused about what can and cannot recycled”.

It proposes:

  • Consistent collections with every council required to collect waste from households at least weekly. This will include dry recycling; food waste; non-recycling; and garden waste
  • Create a new voluntary standardised and simple labelling system for recyclable packaging and non-recyclable packaging that is clear at ime of purchase to enable better consumer choice
  • National campaign to drive public awareness and to encourage uptake
  • Set a gold standard certification and labelling system for practical definites of recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. Current definitions are misleading for cosumers and not fit for purpose
  • An extended deposit return scheme that goes beyond plastic bottles.

The work of the CEN is expected to play a part in the shaping of future Conservative environment policy, especially for any election manifesto. However, within the party it is recognised that there are some differences of opinions as to which policies should be advance potentially ahead of others.


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