Natural England appoints life peer as new deputy chairman

A senior politician has been appointed as the new Natural England (NE) deputy chairman.

Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, has appointed the Rt. Hon. the Lord Blencathra as deputy chairman of NE, until the end of his term as a board member on March 11, 2021.

This news follows the announcement of the lord’s appointment to the NE Board in March 2018.

The newly appointed deputy will continue to receive remuneration at the rate of £328 a day, although there will be an increase to his current time commitment of 36 days a year.

The long-standing Conservative politician is currently one of 10 members of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and previously served as Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 1992 to 1993.

A background in rural affairs influenced the politicians selection as deputy chairman of the non-departmental public body, which was set up under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

The organisation was established to ensure the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations.

Lobbying allegations

Lord Blencathra – formerly David Maclean – has had a wide-reaching career in politics that extends back to 1985, where he sat on the agricultural committee in the House of Commons.

In 2014, this political career was in turmoil amidst lobbying allegations, which resulted in a public apology issued by the Lords Standards Commissioner.

The lord signed a £12,000 a month contract with the Caymen Island government in 2011, agreeing to lobby his fellow peers, MPs and ministers on its behalf.

During the public investigation, Lord Blencathra admitted to the Bureau at that time that he “lobbied the government, but insisted that he did not lobby parliament”.

The commissioner accepted Lord Blencathra’s argument that, while the contract required him to lobby parliament, he had not done so, and an apology was deemed sufficient.