Rory Stewart appointed Resource Minister

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has given Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, responsibility for ‘resource and environmental management’.

Although no formal announcement has been made, the Defra website was updated this morning (3 June) to show the new ministerial portfolios, more than three weeks after the Conservative Party won the general election.

Stewart, the Conservative MP for Penrith and The Border, has now been given responsibility for:

  • natural environment;
  • floods and water;
  • resource and environmental management; and
  • rural affairs.

He also has lead responsibility for the Environment Agency, Natural England, and the Forestry Commission, and is Deputy for the Secretary of State on the Environment Council.

Stewart was previously Chair of the Defence Select Committee and has also been a member of the 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. 

He has served in both the army and the diplomatic service, including at the British Embassy in Indonesia, and as British representative to Montenegro, with his writing focusing predominantly on personal experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and on foreign affairs, and has presented three BBC television programmes (In Search of Lawrence of ArabiaAfghanistan: The Great Game; and Border Country: The Story of Britain’s Lost Middleland).

Due to his military background, it was expected that Stewart would be appointed to the Ministry of Defence, but he was instead appointed to Defra.

Industry welcomes Stewart to post

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has today welcomed the confirmation of Rory Stewart MP as the new minister for resource and environmental management.

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.

“Given the importance of resource efficiency, resilience and security to sustainable economic growth, CIWM will also speaking out against any further significant cuts to Defra’s budget, and calling for more visible co-ordination of policy in this area between Defra and other key departments, including the Treasury.”

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), another trade association for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, also commented, with ESA’s Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, saying: “ESA is pleased that Defra has now confirmed that Mr Rory Stewart MP will [have] responsibility for waste and resources policy as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. 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.

“A key environmental priority for the next government should be to find a way for us to meet our 2020 household recycling targets during a difficult period for local authority finances. The industry is keen to help the Government solve this conundrum as well as other issues affecting our sector.”

Other ministerial portfolios

George Eustice has taken on the role of Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, for which he was formerly Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.

His responsibilities include:

  • food and farming;
  • animal health and welfare;
  • marine and fisheries;
  • science and innovation; and
  • better regulation.

Eustice also has lead responsibility for the Rural Payments Agency, FERA (formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, and is Deputy for the Secretary of State on the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

Eustice and Stewart will be led by Elizabeth Truss (referred to as Liz Truss), who is Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She will oversee EU and international relations, ‘emergencies’, and ‘departmental administration’.

Find out more about the new Defra ministers.

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