Forestry Journal:

This piece is an extract from our Forestry Features newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

To receive our full, free newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

A LITTLE over a year ago, this column brought you news of yet another British environment secretary when Thérèse Coffey replaced the shortest-serving holder of the role in history, Ranil Jayawardena. Barely 12 months later, we're doing it all over again.


We could save ourselves the time and effort by simply copying and pasting pretty much what was written then – and not just by FJ – but it's incumbent on us to at least pretend Steve Barclay will be here to stay. Given he's the 10th politician tasked with leading Defra in just 13 years, the odds suggest he may not be.

The former health secretary was confirmed in the key role on Monday, replacing Ms Coffey who had only been in the post since October 2022. Mr Barclay, the MP for North East Cambridgeshire, has held a number of senior and junior ministerial jobs in recent years, but none in relation to forestry or the wider environment.

Upon his appointment, he said: "This government remains committed to leaving our environment in a better state than we found and halting and reversing the decline of nature – preserving our vital natural heritage for the benefit of future generations."

A quick look at his credentials makes you wonder just how he'll do this.

For instance, he – like Ms Coffey – voted in favour of selling off England's public forests back in 2011 in what would have been the biggest sale of public land for nearly 60 years. Unsurprisingly, the plans did not go down well and were eventually binned.

Forestry Journal: Thérèse Coffey resigned as environment secretary on Monday Thérèse Coffey resigned as environment secretary on Monday (Image: PA)

According to They Work For You, the Tory MP has frequently voted against measures to prevent climate change (26 votes against to just seven for). In his favour, he is a patron of the Conservative Rural Forum. 

But eager readers will note his voting record is almost identical to Ms Coffey's, and we know what fate befell her.