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Wednesday 25 April 2018
25 April 2018 - NEWS UPDATE
Climate Change

Greg Barker quits as Energy Minister as Paterson sacked as Environment Secretary

Greg Barker has quit his position as Energy Minister as the Prime Minister completes the reshuffle of his Government Cabinet, which includes the sacking of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.


Mr Barker is understood to have informed PM David Cameron of his surprise decision to resign over the weekend. He will also stand down as an MP at next year's general election.
The Conservative MP has been bruised and battered by a series of policy gaffes and Whitehall scraps, which has led to other Ministers briefing against him.
He has come under increasing pressure following the calamitous launch of the Green Deal scheme and a High Court ruling last week, which leaves the Government facing a £132 million damages bill for his handling of reductions to the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
Accepting Mr Barker's resignation, the Prime Minister's official letter of response stated: "You have served continuously on the Conservative front bench for over a decade and I hope you can be enormously proud of all you have achieved over the years covering the related briefs of Environment and, more recently, Climate Change.
"In particular, you have led successful investment into our energy infrastructure, making the UK a world-leader in renewable technology. You have established the Green Investment Bank, and mobilised over £3 billion investment into our renewables sector last year alone."
Using his Twitter account, Mr Barker tonight messaged: "It has been a huge honour to serve in pioneering 1st Cameron govt, & great privilege to represent #Bexhill&Battle."
Mr Paterson’s departure comes as less of a shock after groups launched a high-profile campaign to get him kicked out of office.
Last week, Friends of the Earth dumped hundreds of wellington boots on the steps of the Environment Department to highlight the “Give Owen Paterson the boot" campaign, launched because of his failure to take climate change seriously.
The environment charity called for the Defra chief to be sacked because he did not accept the science of man-made global warming and had failed to prepare the UK for worsening floods as climate change kicks in.
Earlier in the week it was revealed that Paterson had shunned offers from the Met Office's Chief Scientist to brief him on climate change science.
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said tonight: "David Cameron is right to give Owen Paterson the boot – he’s the worst Environment Secretary the UK has had for decades.
"Mr Paterson has wilfully ignored scientific evidence on climate change, championed pesticide firms instead of bees and massively under-invested in flood defences, leaving thousands of households at risk of future flooding.
"His successor must show they are serious about safeguarding Britain's environment and protecting the nation from the growing threat of global climate change."
Owen Paterson notoriously turned up in Somerset during the height of the winter floods without wearing Wellington boots.
In stark contrast, Mr Barker was well regarded within the green sector and was seen as a crucial climate change advocate to David Cameron.
He helped organise the famous “hug a husky” photo event in 2006 for the future PM to highlight the changing Arctic climate and is still regarded as the leading green champion within the Conservative Party.
Despite being widely tipped to be replaced by a female MP, Lib Dem Minister Ed Davey keeps his job as Energy Secretary until the Autumn party conference.
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