Defra outlines duties for new waste minister

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed the responsibilities that will be given to the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Rory Stewart.

Three weeks after Prime Minister David Cameron reshuffled his Cabinet following a Tory triumph in the general election, Defra has confirmed that Stewart – MP for Penrith and The Border – will retain control of waste and resources policy.

The announcement comes after other recent moves within the Department which had cast doubts on where the specific responsibilities would lie and left Stewart’s role unconfirmed.

Natural environment

Lord de Mauley was recently axed from his role as Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science at Defra, with the number of politicians in the Department reduced from four to three.  De Mauley’s responsibilities would be shared between the remaining three – Stewart, Liz Truss and minister of state George Eustice.

But Defra has this week clarified Stewart’s role, giving him the lead responsibility for the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission as well as natural environment, floods and water and resource and environmental management.

Stewart’s key responsibilities will include: –

– Natural environment
– Floods and water
– Resource and environmental management
– Rural affairs

Circular economy

Stewart replaced former Liberal Democrat Minister Dan Rogerson. He has been a member of the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on Local Democracy, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountain Rescue, and Treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Upland Farming.

The waste and resource management industry has welcomed the announcement. CIWM’s deputy chief executive Chris Murphy said: “We are pleased to welcome Mr Stewart to his new portfolio, and we will be seeking an early meeting with the Minister to discuss the priority issues facing the waste and resource management industry.

“With the right support, our industry has a significant contribution to make to economic growth and jobs, resource and energy security, and progress towards a circular economy. To do this, however, we need government leadership and vision. We will be emphasising the need for proactive engagement in the development of the new EU Circular Economy package and for action closer to home on issues including recycling performance, waste crime, and infrastructure.”


ESA’s executive director Jacob Hayler added: “We look forward to working with the Minister to ensure that waste and recycling issues are well represented on the Government’s agenda during the course of this Parliament.

“The past 12 months have been challenging for the recycling industry but we are now well placed to contribute to UK growth by providing jobs at all skills levels all around the country as we recycle more of our waste.”

The industry has already set out what it believes should be the priorities of the Conservative Government during its term: a Resource Management and Circular Economy Act, a ban on biodegradable waste to landfill, and a statutory duty on businesses to collect and submit data on waste all form part of the waste and resource industry manifesto.

Luke Nicholls

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