New Defra Minister and Housing Secretary Appointed in Cabinet Reshuffle

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson began a reshuffle of his cabinet, with several top roles changed. Notably, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government role is to be taken up by former Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Meanwhile, MP for Banbury and North Oxfordshire Victoria Prentis has been promoted to Junior Minister at Defra, previously serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick oversaw the development of a Planning Bill promised in the Queen’s Speech that has yet to be laid in Parliament. The planning for the future consultation, which set out plans for major planning reforms, introduced a new zoning system which would split local authority plans into growth, renewal and protected areas.

We shared our concerns about the proposals when launched, with Stephanie Wray, CIEEM’s Strategic Policy Panel Chair saying: “There is little consideration for nature in these proposals. There are no consultation questions relating to biodiversity or the natural environment and, despite passing mention of the 25-Year Environment Plan and Biodiversity Net Gain, the Government doesn’t seem to have taken the opportunity to use planning reform as a really effective tool to deliver action on biodiversity protection and climate change.”

However, there is news that these reforms have been paused under Michael Gove following concerns from Conservative MPs.

Victoria Prentis’ portfolio is yet to be confirmed. Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice remains in post.