The sixth Secretary of State in eight years has been appointed today to succeed Margaret Becket, David Miliband, Hilary Benn, Caroline Spelman and Owen Paterson.

A warm welcome to Liz Truss MP.

With a General Election inked in for May 2015, she has ten months to make an impact but history tells us that this is a brief where you can do great things and may need to be prepared to deal with floods, plagues and even pestilence.

In the spirit of constructive challenge, here is a short guide to being successful in the best job in government...

1. Use your voice for nature - the Cabinet needs at least one champion for the natural environment and we hope and expect the Environment Secretary to do just that.

2. Embrace the ambition for this to be the first generation to pass on the natural environment in a better state to the next - you inherit a clear agenda outlined in the Natural Environment White Paper and England Biodiversity Strategy but you will quickly find that there is a mismatch between this ambition and resources available

3. Make existing resources work hard for wildlife - you arrive at a crucial time as the final piece of the CAP reform jigsaw is about to be slotted in to place.  The New Environmental Land Management Scheme will provide you with an additional £925m to support wildlife friendly farming - a well designed scheme supported by expert advice can make this money go a long way and help address the parlous state of farmland wildlife.

4. Don't neglect those bits of nature that are out of sight and out of mind - especially the marine environment and our Overseas Territories. Small investment of resource in these areas can go a long way. 

5. Your time in office will coincide with development of your party's manifesto for the next election. Take the time to find out what is working on the ground, be curious about the merits of the Nature Improvement Areas established under this government, think about how to reconcile human and nature needs. Specifically, please do think about our proposals for a new Nature and Wellbeing Bill and licensing of driven grouse moors.

6. Environmental NGOs are here to help.  It may not feel like it at times, but our job is to do whatever nature needs and we want to work with Defra to turn ambition into reality.

Good luck!

  • Well said Martin. I know nothing of this lady's environmental background or environmental sympathies, which no doubt will be looked at in the next few days. Hopefully, this change of office will now make the RSPB's challange to political parties to license grouse moors in the next Parliament particularly timely.

    I could not help thinking that with the previous incumbent at Defra it would have fallen on particularly stony ground.

    Having said this, I notice you do not refer to the previous incumbent. I may be doing him a disservice but I have to say that there is very little indeed to say about a Secretary of State who felt that global warming is a good idea! I don't think he will be missed by many,indeed hardly at all.