“Critical time for the countryside”, says new Environment Secretary

Newly appointed Secretary of State for Defra, Ranil Jayawardena MP, has spoken of the “critical time for the countryside”, at the Conservative Conference Rural Reception hosted by BASC and the Angling Trust.

Introduced to the Rural Reception by BASC vice president Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Mr Jayawardena spoke of his rural background and the importance of the environment, food and growth going hand-in-hand to the 250 MPs, peers, delegates and representatives of organisations in attendance.

Ranil Jayawardena, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “I am delighted to have the time to support two great organisations and it is an honour to be in the role at such a critical time for the countryside.

“Environment, food and growth should go hand-in-hand. Looking after our natural environment has never been more important. We must be resolute in halting the decline in biodiversity. I am a fan of conservation, which is integral to the future of rural Britain.

“I will be visiting rural communities in the weeks and months to come.”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, said: “Ranil is a countryman and a good friend of shooting. His appointment is a good opportunity to look at the entire Defra portfolio.”

Highlighting the importance of sustainability in the countryside, BASC chairman Eoghan Cameron, added: “Shooting and fishing are an integral part of the UK’s rich heritage. Their future depends upon sustainability and high standards.”

Mr Cameron continued, saying that BASC expected “much from this government” and that it looked forward to working with the new Secretary of State to address a number of issues, one of which was “the need to have a living and working countryside, unencumbered by excessive red tape and damaging regulation, such as the regular over-application of the precautionary principle”.