Michael Gove is “entirely unfit” to carry out his new brief as Environment Secretary, the leader of the Green Party has said.
Caroline Lucas said the Prime Minister’s welcoming of Mr Gove back into the Cabinet less than a year after his sacking was “further evidence of both Theresa May’s complete disregard for the environment and her desperation to hold together a Government in chaos”.
Mrs May offered him the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) position as part of a limited Cabinet reshuffle over the weekend following the snap General Election.
The Green Party co-leader said: “It is hard to think of many politicians as ill-equipped for the role of Environment Secretary as Mr Gove.
“His record of voting against measures to halt climate change and his attempt to wipe the subject from our children’s curriculum show him entirely unfit to lead our country in tackling one of the greatest threats we face.
“And as we enter Brexit negotiations, Gove’s past suggestion we scrap vital EU environmental protections becomes ever more concerning.”
Greenpeace urged the former Justice Secretary to “move swiftly to prove that he’s better than his (voting) record suggests”.
The charity’s executive director John Sauven said: “He once described himself as a ‘shy green’, and that shyness was fully on display when he tried to remove climate change from the school curriculum, called for the Habitat Directive to be scrapped, and voted to sell off our forests.
“But he has also spoken of his love for the great Scottish outdoors and of the importance of preserving this natural beauty for the next generation - a key promise in the Conservative manifesto.”
He urged Mr Gove to channel his “trademark reformist zeal” into tackling urgent environmental problems, such as reshaping the farm subsidy system and protecting oceans from over-fishing and plastic waste.
In 2013, in his role as education secretary, Mr Gove was accused of trying to “airbrush” climate change from the national curriculum.
Two petitions to keep climate change in the curriculum attracted more than 65,000 signatures over two months amid concerns that references to the topic were to be removed from the geography syllabus.
The Socialist Environment and Resources Association, an environmental group which campaigns for Labour to adopt ambitious environmental policies, tweeted: “Gove, the DUP & Brexit? The need for a Labour party that’s strong on the environment has never been more important.”
Martin Harper, global conservation director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), welcomed the appointment, tweeting: “Congratulations @michaelgove - #RSPB looks forward to working with new Environment SoS to take forward manifesto commitments.”