The MP for the Chipping Barnet constituency in North London takes on the post vacated by Mr Gove who has become Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The appointments were announced by Mr Johnson in his cabinet reshuffle yesterday evening (24 July).
Mr Gove’s new role means that there should be a particularly high level of awareness of environmental issues within the cabinet which he now has a responsibility to chair and deputy chair.
This level of environmental awareness could be bolstered by the Prime Minister himself. Earlier this month he praised the work of Defra and pledged that if he was elected as Conservative Party leader and so became Prime Minister, he would keep up the momentum on environmental policy (see letsrecycle.com story).
A former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Ms Villiers steps into the Department at a crucial time in the development of waste and resource policy, which is to be delivered through an Environment Bill. She has substantial experience of policy making and negotiations having served in the Northern Ireland office between 2012-2016 under David Cameron. A Brexiteer, she left government shortly after Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister after reportedly having been offered a job outside of the cabinet.
I have championed a number of the issues covered by the department, including animal welfare and improving air quality.”
Ms Villiers also served as a transport minister from May 2010 until September 2012.
A trained lawyer, she was an MEP for London, and was elected to represent the Chipping Barnet constituency in the 2005 General Election, a post she has held since. She campaigned to leave the European Union during the 2016 referendum.
As a constituency MP Ms Villiers has been outspoken on issues around waste in her local community – describing herself as a ‘regular volunteer litter picker’ and urging her local authority to use additional funding for litter and related work.
Having opposed the North London Waste Authority’s plans for a waste processing plant at Pinkham Way, she later offered her support for a replacement energy from waste facility at Edmonton.
Just a few months ago, Ms Villiers pressed Barnet London borough council to resolve issues relating to unemptied bins arising from changes to waste collection routes introduced by the borough in late 2018 after a protracted roll-out.
She has also campaigned on issues including bus emissions, housing and green spaces.
In a post on her Facebook page last night, Ms Villiers said she was ‘honoured’ to have been offered the role.
She said: “I feel very honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to return to the Cabinet, taking on the role of Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I have championed a number of the issues covered by the department, including animal welfare and improving air quality.”
“My new responsibilities will therefore complement many of my local campaigns in my constituency, such as protecting our green spaces. I am already hard at work preparing for Defra questions in Parliament tomorrow morning.”