Owen Paterson has been sacked as environment secretary as a part of a government reshuffle, with his critics welcoming the move. Paterson has previously been the subject of strong criticism for failing to take climate change seriously, supporting the badger cull and GM crops.
Paterson, who became the environment secretary in 2012, has been criticised by political opponents, scientists, animal rights activists and environmental campaigners for a series of reasons that went from opposing a pesticide ban to protect bees to inaction and scepticism on climate change.
He hit the headlines in September last year, when he said he was “relieved” by the findings of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which warned of the devastating effects of global warming. He added the UK would benefit from hotter temperatures.
He also controversially backed the introduction of GM crops in Europe, voted against the introduction of a two-year EU ban on bee-killing neonicotinoids and launched the much-criticised badger cull to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB), which has been claimed to be cruel and ineffective.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said, “So for now at least, the badgers have outlasted Owen Paterson. If history remembers him, it will not be kind. An ideological attachment to climate change denial saw him sack people working on flood defences just when we needed them most. When his own scientists tried to brief him, he refused to hear them out.”
Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins added, “David Cameron is right to give Owen Paterson the boot – he’s the worst Environment Secretary the UK has had for decades.
“His successor must show they are serious about safeguarding Britain’s environment and protecting the nation from the growing threat of global climate change.”
It has been suggested that education minister Liz Truss could become the next environment secretary, as David Cameron seeks to increase the number of women in senior government posts.
Referring to the badger cull, Mark Jones, director of Humane Society International UK, said, “Mr Paterson has consistently failed to listen to science, reason and public opinion on this issue, and by doing so he has stood in the way of progress and given farmers, taxpayers, and most of all badgers, a very bad deal.
“In order to demonstrate her support for both England’s wildlife and its farming community, his replacement Liz Truss should immediately abandon the badger cull and set about implementing the genuinely science-led cattle and farm-based measures to tackle bovine TB that are so urgently required.”
Other departing ministers are Greg Barker, leaving the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Nick Hurd, who has left as minister for civil society, and William Hague, who is leaving the Foreign Office to become Leader of the House.
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