13/6/2017

Michael Gove lands Defra top job

Michael Gove DefraThe GWCT welcomes Michael Gove to his new post and looks forward to discussing post-Brexit plans for agri-environment schemes with him.

Teresa Dent, GWCT Chief Executive, said: “Whilst nobody wants to use Brexit to trash existing legislation, we should take the opportunity to make improvements where we can. This includes the freedom to reform our agri-environment schemes and we look forward to sharing our proposals.”

Andrew Gilruth, GWCT Director of Communications, said: “As we enter Brexit negotiations, the countryside needs a leader at Defra who can win arguments.  Michael Grove can do that. He successfully argued the case for leaving the EU and has run two other government departments. The fact he has said little about the environment recently is helpful. His 2,000 staff are now free to brief him on everything, from flooding to animal health, so he can form his own view."

"As we address arrangements with the EU and other nations, as well as our own Treasury, he will need robust advice. Our countryside is full of complexities so many will be pleased that the new government will have no choice but to listen carefully to all views then Defra can make sound decisions that will affect us all for decades to come.”

Farmers will be delighted to hear his comment that “all those who make our countryside beautiful and who keep it productive are at the very heart of policymaking” (11 June, Sky News).

With Brexit negotiations imminent, many will be pleased that Gove and Eustice are working so closely again. During the EU referendum campaign, they argued that our countryside faced a brighter future outside the EU – now they can ensure it comes true.

Having led the Department for Education for four years and then a year at the Justice Department, he is no stranger to reform or negotiating with the Treasury. 

What has Gove said on farm funding before?

“There would be no reduction in what people get from the CAP but what we do want to look at is the bureaucracy which leads to delays in payments. So we would want to keep the money and not the bureaucracy.”

“George and I both said throughout the [EU] referendum is we would ensure that all of the money that currently goes to farmers stays with farmers.” (July 2016, Yorkshire Post).

What has he said about red tape before?

Farmers and other land managers might also appreciate Gove’s view of regulation when he said that he was “unashamedly on the side of those who say that we should think very carefully before legislation and regulation because the cry ‘Something must be done’ often leads to people doing something which isn’t always wise” – May 2012, Leveson Inquiry.

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