New Environment Minister in Wales as Griffiths has portfolio altered
Hannah Blythyn has been named as the new Welsh Environment Minister after a reshuffle at the Welsh Government saw responsibility for Environment removed from Lesley Griffiths’s portfolio.
Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, but the environmental portfolio has been given to Blythyn, who is officially deputy to Griffiths in the department.
This means that Griffiths will no longer be responsible for waste and recycling, which has continued to go from strength to strength in Wales since she was given the role in May 2016.
Wales has continued to increase its recycling rate during Griffiths’s tenure, most recently reporting a 64 per cent recycling rate for the 12 months leading up to March 2017, up four per cent on the figure reported at the same time in 2016.
‘Recycling: Who Really Leads the World?’, a report carried out by Resource and Eunomia Research & Consulting earlier this year found that if it was reported independently from the rest of the UK, Wales would be third in the worldwide recycling rate standings behind just Germany and Singapore.
In August, Griffiths also announced plans to consult on plans to halve food waste in Wales by 2025 and has set up a Task and Finish Group to look at capturing more of the recyclable materials found in residual waste bins.
Blythyn has only been a member of the Welsh Assembly since winning the seat in Delyn in May 2016 and this is the first post that she will have held at the Welsh Government.
She does not list the environment as one of her key interests but has sat on the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee. Prior to being elected to the Welsh Assembly, Blythyn worked for the Unite trade union, heading up policy and political work for the union in Wales.
Following the announcement of the reshuffle, Blythyn tweeted: ‘Honoured and humbled to have been asked to serve in @WelshGovernment as Minister for Environment’.
The reshuffle saw First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones make several changes to his cabinet and ministerial team following the sacking of Griffiths’s predecessor Carl Sargeant, who was made Secretary for Communities and Children last year.
Sargeant, who spent two years as what was then referred to as Minister for Natural Resources, was a vocal proponent of the Welsh Government’s Collection Blueprint, which has harmonised many of the Welsh councils’ waste collection systems and spurred on improvements, while he also played a role in introducing tougher enforcement on waste crime in Wales.
Four days after his sacking, which followed allegations regarding his personal conduct, Sargeant was found dead, with police believing that he took his own life. An inquest into his death will be opened today (13 November).