New Environment Secretary backs fox hunting, selling off forests, and opposes climate change measures

Andrea Leadsom spoke out in favour of fox hunting as recently as this month

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Theresa May’s new Environment Secretary backs fox hunting, supported selling off Britain’s forest, and has generally opposed measures to halt climate change, her record shows.

Andrea Leadsom said during the Conservative leadership campaign that she wanted to un-ban fox hunting, citing “animal welfare”.

Her voting record shows she generally voted against key measures to stop climate change, including against setting a target on reducing carbon emissions in both 2012 and 2016.

Ms Leadsom’s appointment comes alongside the apparent abolition of the named Energy and Climate Change department; its responsibilities have been subsumed into the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In July 2015 Ms Leadsom supported applying the climate change levy on electricity generated from renewable sources, while in March this year she voted against developing a strategy for carbon capture and storage for the energy industry.

In 2011 she also backed the Government’s policy on selling off Britain’s forests, before ministers were forced to U-turn on the plan.

After her appointment as a minister at the department of energy in 2015 it emerged that she had asked officials whether climate change really existed.

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Andrea Leadsom unsuccesfully stood for Tory leader this month (Getty Images)

“When I first came to this job one of my two questions was: 'Is climate change real?' and the other was 'Is hydraulic fracturing safe?' And on both of those questions I am now completely persuaded,” she told the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Gas and Oil in October last year.

During the Tory leadership contest, she said of fox hunting: “I would absolutely commit to holding a vote to repeal the hunting ban. It has not proven to be in the interests of animal welfare whatsoever.

“I do believe we need a proper licensed regime which works much better and is more focused on animal welfare.”

The Environment Secretary generally has little say over energy policy, but issues like fox hunting, badger culls, and floods caused by climate change fall within her remit.

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Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the shutting down of the climate change department as “deeply worrying”.

 “The decision to shut down DECC is a deeply worrying move from Theresa May. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government,” she said.

“Dealing with climate change requires a dedicated Minister at the Cabinet table. To throw it into the basement of another Whitehall department looks like a serious backwards step.

“In the coming months I will work constructively with any Minister willing to take climate change seriously, and I’ll be holding the Government to account for any backpeddling on our climate change commitments.”

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