- 24 September 2012
Owen Paterson speaks to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his term as Northern Ireland Secretary.
The woman who oversaw the forest sell-off debacle has been axed in David Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has been replaced by former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, a keen horseman and opponent of bureaucracy. Caroline Spelman’s reign at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs saw one of the coalition Government’s biggest u-turns as it backpedalled on plans to sell off publicly owned forests and woodland, prompting half a million people to sign a petition opposing the plans.
Axed Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman
Ms Spelman incurred the wrath of middle England as well as outdoor enthusiasts with the proposals to dispose of Forestry Commission land in England. The outcry led to the setting up of the Independent Commission on Forestry, which not only recommended keeping the public forest estate, but extending access to other woodland south of the border.
Ms Spelman’s replacement at Smith Square is the managing director of a family leather firm. The MP for North Shropshire is a firm advocate of badger culling as a controversial measure to limit bovine tuberculosis.
He also favours increased shale-gas exploration and his constituency website declares: “Owen is a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives. He believes that taxation and bureaucracy should be minimised to give people the best chance to exercise their talents.”
Mr Paterson is married to Rose, daughter of the 4th Viscount Ridley and has two sons and a daughter.