Theresa May’s first cabinet has changed ministers at the departments for transport, energy and the environment.
Chris Grayling, formerly leader of the House, will head the Department for Transport. He served as shadow secretary of state for transport between 2005-2007.
Grayling was among the MPs absent from the Commons during a Conservative rebellion against HS2 in April 2014.
Speaking to the Commons in a May 2016 debate, Grayling said: “[HS2] will open up parts of our economy, improve infrastructure and make a difference to jobs and business prospects.”
Andrea Leadsom has been appointed to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The former contender for the Conservative leadership previously headed up the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc).
She is a long-standing advocate for a rethink on HS2.
In May 2016, Leadsom signed a letter to HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby to raise concerns about whether democratic procedures were being followed in the consultations on the line’s route.
Speaking in a 2012 debate on transport in the Commons, Leadsom said: “HS2 is a very good example of a project on which a majority of those consulted rejected it, yet where the Government decided that it was in the national interest to disregard their views.
“In the case of the third runway at Heathrow, the Government decided that public opinion outweighed the national need for aviation expansion.”
“The great risk is that local priorities for infrastructure will be undermined while infrastructure for energy and transport projects will be forced on local communities that do not want them,” she added.
Department for Energy and Climate Change axed
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has been folded, with Greg Clark taking on the department’s remit in his role as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.
“I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change,” said Clark in a statement.
Clark has previously served as shadow secretary for energy and climate change. His record in Parliament as recorded on TheyWorkForYou shows that he has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change, against greater regulation for fracking and has a mixed record on low carbon emission electricity generation methods.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “Greg Clark is an excellent appointment. He understands climate change, and has written influential papers on the benefits of Britain developing a low-carbon economy. Importantly, he sees that economic growth and tackling climate change are bedfellows not opponents – and he now has the opportunity to align British industry, energy and climate policy in a way that’s never been done before.”
Commenting on the axing of Decc, Energy and Climate Change Committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “Decc’s disappearance raises urgent questions. To whom falls the central statutory obligation, contained in the Climate Change Act 2008, to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% from their 1990 baseline? Which department will take responsibility for the energy and climate aspects of negotiations to leave the EU? Who will champion decarbonisation in Cabinet? Who will drive innovation in the energy sector?”