Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment and Rural Affairs, has announced that Tony Juniper is his preferred candidate to become the next Chair of Natural England. The news has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth.
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth said: “This is excellent news. At a time when we are witnessing catastrophic declines in wildlife it is very welcome to have a passionate environmentalist of Tony Juniper’s experience and calibre proposed as chair of what is supposed to be England’s independent watchdog to ensure our natural world is protected.
“But the truth is that over the last decade, Natural England has lost most of its independence, with its communications, finance and HR functions being subsumed within DEFRA while – at the same time – suffering a drastic cut in funding.
“Mr Gove is to be congratulated on his choice of candidate, but he should also take the opportunity to make Natural England truly independent and properly funded once again.
"This is of utmost importance, given Brexit is just around the corner and we’re about to lose the independent scrutiny and enforcement of our nature laws currently delivered by EU institutions”.
Juniper is a former trustee of the Resurgence Trust, an educational charity and owner and publisher of The Ecologist.
Marianne Brooker is a commissioning editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.
Image: Jakob Polacsek, Flickr.