Liz Truss appointed Environment Secretary
Liz Truss is replacing Owen Paterson as the new Environment Secretary as part of the far-reaching shake-up of David Cameron's cabinet today (15 July).
As confirmed by Cameron on his official Twitter account this morning, former Education Minister Truss will take up the position of Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with immediate effect, as Paterson has effectively being fired from his position.
The appointment of the 38-year-old South West Norfolk MP is the first sign of Cameron appointing women in the reshuffle, which has also seen Greg Barker stand down as Climate Change Minister.
Her views on environmental matters are not particularly well known, but Truss did recently gave her views on the growing concerns about the expansion of large-scale solar farms on greenfield sites.
"I have been pressing the DECC department for action to be taken to ensure that agricultural land is not lost to acres of solar panels," she said in April. "Not only do they jeopardise our food security but the large scale sites that have been proposed in my South West Norfolk constituency impact considerably on local communities.
"There are so many more options for the sitting of solar panels, for example utilising existing industrial locations and commercial premises, not to mention residential roofs.
"Also encouraging the use of solar in schools is a very positive development. Not only will this significantly reduce the fuel bill but it can also generate an income stream for the school. Pupils learn about their environment seeing firsthand how a sustainable energy plan can be achieved."
Worst Environment Secretary
Paterson's departure has been welcomed by environmental groups due to his perceived failure to take climate change seriously. Last week, edie reported that hundreds of wellington boots had been dumped outside Defra's offices by Friends of the Earth campaigners, calling on the Prime Minister to sack the Environment Secretary.
Responding to today's announcement, Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins said: "David Cameron is right to give Owen Paterson the boot - he's the worst Environment Secretary the UK has had for decades.
"Mr Paterson has wilfully ignored scientific evidence on climate change, championed pesticide firms instead of bees and massively underinvested in flood defences, leaving thousands of households at risk of future flooding.
"His successor must show they are serious about safeguarding Britain's environment and protecting the nation from the growing threat of global climate change."
Liz Truss is the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) July 15, 2014
Among other changes to the cabinet, Energy and Climate Change Minister Barker is leaving Government and will not seek re-election next year. Barker, who has led the Green Deal, said he was 'very pleased' to have served in environment posts for the Government over a 10-year period.
It has been a huge honour to serve in pioneering 1st Cameron govt, & great privilege to represent #Bexhill&Battle.— Greg Barker (@GregBarkerMP) July 14, 2014
Barker was has been praised by green groups and industry bodies for his commitment to clean technologies and action on climate change. Last month, the Energy Minister hit back at claims that the coalition Government has failed to deliver on its promise to be 'the greenest ever', insisting that David Cameron's administration is actually 'delivering like no other' on climate change.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest names in the cabinet reshuffle has been William Hague, who announced late last night that he has decided to step down as an MP at next year's general election. During his 26-year tenure, Hague has worked to make action on climate change a priority for the Foreign Office.