The former London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has joined Defra as an under-secretary of state, in a combined role with the Department for International Development.
His appointment is the latest change in Defra since Boris Johnson took over as Prime Minister last week, with Theresa Villiers having joined as Secretary of State, and Therese Coffey being promoted to Minister of State (see letsrecycle.com story). Robert Goodwill and David Rutley have left the Department.
Joining up work of the Defra and DfID, Mr Goldsmith said in a post on his twitter account that his role would focused on: “work across Defra & DfID to expand Protected Areas around our overseas territories, continue Britain’s leadership Vs the Illegal Wildlife Trade, make sure nature recovery is at the heart of UK Aid, & that we raise animal welfare standards at home.”
Mr Goldsmith, 44, is the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and has been a long-time campaigner on environmental issues. He is a prominent member of the Conservative Environment Network, and formerly a member of the Environmental Audit Committee. Alongside this he has served as vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Prevention of Plastic Waste.
An opponent of the Heathrow airport expansion, he stood down as a Conservative MP over the issue in late 2016, although was re-elected at the 2017 General Election. He has also campaigned in support of the introduction of a carrier bag charge during his time in Parliament and supported a motion calling for an end to the export of plastic waste for recycling early this year.
In a post on the issue of carrier bag charging on his website in 2013, Mr Goldsmith wrote: “The UK is shamefully wasteful. In fact we generate enough waste every two hours to fill the Albert Hall. At a time where pressure on the world’s resources has never been greater, we have to find a way to be more efficient.
“The first priority is reducing the amount of waste we generate in the first place, and the only way to do that is to make waste a liability. Companies will then operate in such a way that minimizes that liability.”
Thrilled to be asked by the PM to work across Defra & DfID to expand Protected Areas around our overseas territories, continue Britain’s leadership Vs the Illegal Wildlife Trade, make sure nature recovery is at the heart of UK Aid, & that we raise animal welfare standards at home
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) July 27, 2019
During his bid for the London mayoralty in 2016 he spoke in favour of harmonising collection systems in the capital, through the establishment of a ‘London Guarantee’, which would have seen local authorities sign up to a ‘common set of London-wide collection standards’.
First elected as Member of Parliament for his home seat of Richmond Park and North Kingston in 2010, he had previously worked for the California-based environmental economics thinktank Redefining Progress, and latterly as a researcher at the International Society for Ecology and Culture.
He was also the editor of the Ecologist magazine from 1998 to 2006, before being appointed by the then Conservative leader David Cameron to head the Party’s environmental policies unit.