Former cabinet colleague slams appointment of Michael Gove as environment secretary

Appointing Michael Gove as environment secretary is like ‘putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop’, according to his ex-Cabinet colleague Ed Davey.

Commenting on Gove’s return to the government as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, the former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister said: “This is the guy who wanted to take climate change out of the geography curriculum.”

Davey, who was energy and climate change secretary in the coalition government, told Utility Week that Gove had presented proposals to the Cabinet to remove climate change from the school curriculum as part of his broader attempt to streamline the national syllabus.

While climate change would have remained in the science section of the curriculum under Gove’s plan, Davey argued in the Cabinet that the issue needed to be included in a broader teaching of weather covered by geography. Gove climbed down on the curriculum issue.

Davey pointed to Gove’s campaign to water down EU environmental regulations during last year’s Brexit referendum as further proof of the latter’s unsuitability for his new post.

And he predicted that there would be ‘tensions’ between Gove and business secretary Greg Clark, who he said had a good understanding of climate change issues.

But Davey said he could not recall Gove making any contributions at Cabinet on renewable energy or energy efficiency issues.

Davey, who won back his Kingston and Surbiton constituency in south west London for the Lib Dems at last week’s election, told Utility Week that he would use his restored platform in parliament to keep “pushing hard” on the climate change agenda.

He said that the encouragement provided to the renewable sector under the coalition government was bearing fruit in the form of cheaper low carbon generation, pointing to what he described as the “tumbling cost” of offshore wind.

“It is clear that the changes we put in place are delivering as we promised,” he said.

“When you look at everything from (energy) storage technology to inter-connectors that the case that the climate change deniers used to put out on intermittency is being dealt with.”

He told Utility Week that he would retain an interest in energy issues, irrespective of whether he was appointed to shadow the portfolio in the Liberal Democrat team.

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