The Cabinet Reshuffle: Green lobby apprehensive: John Gummer

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JOHN GUMMER'S early moves as Secretary of State for the Environment will be watched with apprehension by the green lobby and access campaigners, writes Stephen Goodwin.

In his three years as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Gummer was a vocal supporter of producer interests, except the whaling industry which he vigorously opposed.

As MP for Suffolk Coastal, Mr Gummer, 53, is one of the so- called 'East Anglian mafia' of ministers around John Major, whose seat is Huntingdon.

He joined the Government in 1981 as an assistant whip and slowly, but surely, climbed the ministerial ladder until Baroness Thatcher promoted him to Cabinet rank in 1989. He first came to public notice in 1983 with his appointment as chairman of the Conservative Party after Cecil (now Lord) Parkinson's celebrated departure. Lord McAlpine, then party treasurer, dismissed him at the time as 'this mediocre school swot'.

He describes himself as 'a passionate European'. As agriculture minister he made his mark in late-night talks in Brussels and singing the praises of meat-eating and the British sausage. When 'mad cow disease' hit the headlines he got his daughter Cordelia to taste a hamburger for the cameras.

The Cambridge-educated son of an evangelical Church of England canon, Mr Gummer has also made a name as a moralising Anglo-Catholic. Six months ago he resigned from the General Synod of the Church of England in protest at the ordination of women.

He made headline news again in January, when he was first reprimanded by the Commons Select Committee on Members' Interests for failing to declare pounds 2,000 of work done by a food company clearing a silted pond at his Suffolk home and then over security work there at a cost to the taxpayer of pounds 17,000.