Lobby groups put early pressure on new Environment Secretary as Northants MP takes office

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom was appointed Environment Secretary by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom was appointed Environment Secretary by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May

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Campaigners and pressure groups have outlined their expectations of the new Environment Secretary, South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom.

Mrs Leadsom, who pulled out of the leadership campaign earlier this week, was given the Cabinet position by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Thursday.

Campaign groups were quick to outline what they wanted to see from the new Secretary of State for the Departement of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Countrside Alliance said, as well as domestic issues, it was important that this sector was central to negotiations to the leave the EU. The alliance also welcomed Mrs Leadsom's support for fox hunting.

Chief executive Tim Bonner said: “We very much welcome Mrs Leadsom’s appointment. It is good that she has given commitments on broadband provision, rural funding and agricultural support.

"It is also good to see her commitment to protection of the environment and support for people in the countryside. On the totemic issue of the Hunting Act I am also pleased that Mrs Leadsom supports hunting and country sports in general.”

Friends of the Earth called for Mrs Leadsom to protect the UK from worsening flooding and heatwaves, defend and extend existing nature protections and address funding for farmers.

CEO Craig Bennet said: ""British farming now has to make the case for the public money it receives - we should not be subsidising unsustainable food production or farming practices which fail to protect and preserve Britain's green and pleasant land."

The NFU, which represents farmers across the country, said it was looking forward to working with Mrs Leadsom to "forge the future of farming and food production".

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: "At the forefront will be a new domestic agricultural policy. This should encourage growth, innovation, productivity and profitability.

“However, there are also many issues that need addressing more immediately - we need a simpler application process and improved delivery for BPS; we need a guarantee from Government that agreements for farmers in agri-environment schemes will be honoured in full; we need a continuing commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy.

"And above all, we hope that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming. Our industry has a great story to tell and it’s an industry that is optimistic about meeting the challenges ahead."

The president of the CLA, which represents 32,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, called on Mrs Leadsom to reduce uncertainty in the rural economy by making clear commitments on five priority issues.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “Highest on the agenda will be immediate action to reduce uncertainty in the wake of the vote for Brexit.

"We will be asking Andrea Leadsom to make swift commitments on five priority issues for the rural economy – ensuring direct payments up to 2020; honouring agri-environment agreements; establishing a new food, farming and environmental policy to succeed and better the CAP; engaging in full and clear consultation with farmers; and honouring commitments under current EU structural fund programmes.

“Government and farmers together have a unique opportunity to create better outcomes for the agriculture sector, the rural economy and the environment. We look forward to discussing this opportunity with her at the earliest opportunity.”