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Britain's New Environment Secretary Is Already Causing Alarm

12/06/2017 7:59 AM AEST | Updated 12/06/2017 7:59 AM AEST
Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images

Michael Gove has made a dramatic comeback as Theresa May appointed the MP to the Cabinet in her post-election reshuffle.

But questions have been raised about his new brief as Environment Secretary as critics pointed to his record on climate change and wildlife.

The former Justice Secretary was sacked by May when she became Prime Minister last year, and it seemed his frontline career was over while she remained in Downing Street.

Yet during May's increasingly wobbly General Election campaign, Gove was frequently on television defending the Prime Minister, and it seems his actions have been rewarded.

Gove takes over from fellow Brexiteer - and one-time Tory leadership contender - Andrea Leadsom, who has been moved to Leader of the Commons, and will take over a role that includes farming, fisheries and flooding.

But the appointment has upset campaigners.

Here's what they're alarmed about:

He tried to remove climate change from the curriculum

In 2013, the Guardian reported the then Education Secretary was blocked in an attempt to drop climate change from the geography national curriculum.

He wants to roll back wildlife regulations after Brexit

In March, the Independent reported on a speech Gove gave arguing for regulations preventing building near protected wildlife habitats to be scrapped when the UK leaves the European Union. He said:

"I am very, very keen – I may be odd in this respect as Conservative MP – on having more homes built in my constituency. It's a social and economic good. But homes built in my constituency are governed by the Habitats Directive.

"The Habitats Directive holds that if you build a home within five kilometres of a particular type of terrain, heathland, then you have to allocate, at the same time, something called suitable alternative natural green space to offset the environmental impact."

He backs badger culling and repealing the fox hunting ban

It would be strange for an Environment Secretary to be against two long-standing Tory policies, but his support for badger culling to curb the spread of TB in cows and likelihood of voting in favour of scrapping Labour's Hunting Act is likely to draw criticism from environmentalists.

But he has supporters ...

Freshly re-elected Tory MP and former Ecologist magazine editor Zac Goldsmith pointed to a "brilliant" speech where he argued there was a "Conservative instinct" at the heart of protecting the environment.

In the speech, he said "man and his activities clearly have an influence on the climate" and "we need to be guided by the science" while being "hard-headed but realistic".

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