Andrea Leadsom, former Minister of State for Energy, has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Once a leadership contender for the role of Prime Minister, Leadsom has admitted confusion in the past over the reality of climate change and has also stated that she would like to end farming subsidies.
On the topic of fox hunting, Leadsom said during her leadership campaign that it was “absolutely not proven to be in the interest of animal welfare whatsoever” and the there is a “need to exterminate vermin, which foxes are.”
Upon becoming energy minister, Leadsom said:
“When I first came to this job one of my two questions was: ‘Is climate change real?’ and the other was ‘Is hydraulic fracturing safe?’ And on both of those questions, I am now completely persuaded.”
Since then however, Leadsom has made it clear that decarbonising energy is crucial for the future, saying that “it is an essential responsibility that we hold towards our children and grandchildren, as the only way to effectively counter the threat of climate change.”
Her appointment has said to have alarmed environmentalists, including Green party energy spokesman, Andrew Cooper:
By appointing Andrea Leadsom – a woman who supports foxhunting and has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change – as environment secretary, and scrapping the Department for Energy and Climate Change entirely, May appears to be sending a clear message that fighting climate change is simply not on her agenda.”
The agricultural industry is also said to be concerned about her appointment, as in 2007, Leadsom argued that subsidies for farmers should be abolished and questioned whether Britain needed its own farming industry at all.
Currently, farmers receive £3 billion a year through EU subsidies, making up approximately 55 per cent of a farmer’s income in 2014.
Leadsom shall be tasked with devising a new system to allocate money for farmers, saying during her campaign that:
Some of the things that would make sense would be environmental trading credits, because at the moment you have farmers who have to do a bit of environmental planning and a bit of farming just to meet the EU requirements.
“It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies. That would make a lot more sense for the UK and it’s perfectly possible but only if we leave the EU and sort it out for ourselves.”
The former Brexit campaigner replaces Liz Truss who had been Defra Secretary since July 2014.
*Image courtesy of Policy Exchange