UK cabinet reshuffle casts doubt on “greenest government” pledge

Posted at September 6, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UK cabinet reshuffle casts doubt on “greenest government” pledge

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle announced yesterday removes high-profile ministers from the energy and environment departments.

Energy Minister Charles Hendry has been ousted from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and replaced by wind power sceptic John Hayes.

While the renewable energy industry may have concerns about the appointment of Hayes, who has voiced strong opposition to onshore wind farms in the past, his stance may have softened more recently.

Hayes will also face a significant challenge to steer the complicated and contentious Energy Bill through Parliament.

Meanwhile, Treasury Minister Chloe Smith responsible for the department’s energy and environmental policy has moved to the Cabinet Office.

Elsewhere, Caroline Spelman is being replaced at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson.

Paterson has served previously as Shadow Environment Secretary but is reported as being a strong supporter of shale gas, which could be significant as Defra oversees the Environment Agency, the agency tasked with regulating the sector.

The new leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, in some of her first comments said the reshuffle would change little or nothing.

“There’s no sign of a government U-turn towards the investment that we urgently need to create jobs and provide the homes, public transport and sustainable energy infrastructure necessary to meet community needs and build a Britain fit for the low-carbon future,” commented the former newspaper journalist-turned-politician.

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Related stories:
UK government scraps environmental regulations to save £400 million (8-Aug)
UK Energy Bill will deter investment and add costs, warns committee (23-Jul)
UK needs to pick up the pace of emissions reduction, says CCC (29-Jun)
Scottish Energy Ministers questions electricity market reform (21-Jun)

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