UK: cabinet reshuffle – pro-badger cull minister appointed

Posted on September 5, 2012

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Yesterday (4th September), an item was posted on guardian.co.uk titled ‘Cabinet reshuffle: key tasks in the in-trays of new ministers’.

‘… The possible third runway at Heathrow, Lord Leveson’s conclusions and the fate of the British badger are all issues – …

The new environment secretary, Owen Paterson, will be blooded into his new job in dramatic fashion: the start of the highly controversial badger cull in England. Animals will be shot within weeks, barring last-minute legal challenges. The cull aims to curb the scourge of tuberculosis in cattle and Paterson, when shadow environment secretary, wholeheartedly backed the farmers who support the cull.

That is the most pressing issue in his in-tray, but the alternating threat of floods and droughts require urgent attention too. That will be tricky given the huge budget cut his predecessor accepted, the biggest of any major department. As a consequence, hundreds of flood defences that were in line for funding have not been built. With climate change increasing flood risk, the environment secretary sits one downpour from disaster.

Rising food prices will be a challenge too, but the most important issue Paterson faces is far broader and at the heart of a fierce battle in cabinet: the fate of David Cameron’s pledge to make his government the “greenest ever”.

As the economy has tanked, the Tory right has looked to bury that pledge in the name of growth at any cost. The environment secretary has been important – if not all that effectual in the guise of the sacked Caroline Spelman – in fighting that idea, for example by producing landmark studies on the value of the natural environment to the UK economy.

With strong green voices in decline around the cabinet table, Paterson’s key role will be how he uses his new power to argue against – or for – anti-environmental policies across government …’

Read the item in full and add your comment online at www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/04/cabinet-reshuffle-intrays-new-ministers

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