Mrs Spelman’s appointment will see her and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne lead the Government’s environmental agenda.

Mrs Spelman said: “The department is responsible for many of the things that are vital to our quality of life – the food we eat, the air we breathe and how we manage the land we live on and the seas that surround our shores.

“I will work across government and beyond to respond to the challenges of increasing food production, adapting to climate change, protecting our natural environment and ensuring we live sustainably.”

The appointment of Mrs Spelman, who was embroiled in an expenses scandal over using parliamentary staff allowance to fund her nanny, was welcomed by leading waste group The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM).

A spokeswoman said: “The waste and resource management sector has an important role to play in creating a more sustainable society and tackling climate change.

“This sector has reached a critical point in its development, making a challenging transition from ‘waste’ to ‘resource’ management, and defining its role within the wider debate about energy, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change.

“We look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the right framework of controls and incentives are in place to help us deliver a low carbon and resource efficient future.”

Luke Walsh

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