DEFRA confirms ministers' portfolios

DEFRA ministers' portfolios have been confirmed. Here's what you need to know about who is responsible for what following the shake-up at the environment department.

Source - Getty Images, David Keaton Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey

Coffey was appointed secretary of state for DEFRA on 25 October, taking over from Ranil Jayawardena, and has since acted as one of the UK’s spokespeople at COP27.

She previously acted as the deputy prime minister and health and social care secretary under former prime minister Liz Truss’s government.

Her responsibilities include the budget, including Official Development Assistance (ODA), international relations, and senior appointments.

Under secretary of state, Rebecca Pow

Pow has been appointed Environment Agency lead and will be responsible for environment regulation, including chemicals.

Pow has also been made the DEFRA go-to for resources and waste, air quality and noise, floods and water, under the title: minister for environmental quality and resilience.

The MP was reappointed to DEFRA in October, after resigning under Boris Johnson’s government over the summer, previously serving in the department since September 2019 as minister for nature recovery and the domestic environment.

On the appointment, she tweeted: “Delighted and honoured to be back with the top team in DEFRA”. She tagged fellow environment ministers Lord Richard Benyon and Mark Spencer as well as new environment secretary Thérèse Coffey in the tweet.

READ MORE: The environment minister on the Great British sewage scandal

Minister, Trudy Harrison

Trudy Harrison, who was appointed to DEFRA in September, was originally given responsibility for resources and waste management, flooding, chemicals, water quality and  air quality under a huge portfolio described as being for “the whole environment” by DEFRA sources. 

Harrison, whose title is “minister for natural environment and land use”, has now been made the lead for Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

Her new responsibilities include those for the domestic natural environment, wildlife and land use, climate change adaptation, tree planting and forestry, landscapes, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), and access including rights of way as well as coastal paths.

Minister, Mark Spencer

Mark Spencer, who was also appointed in September, has been appointed minister for food, farming and fisheries. As well as being responsible for the area’s that form part of his title, he has also been given responsibility for trade.

He is the lead for the rural payments agency (RPA), Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).

Minister, Lord Benyon

Lord Benyon, who was appointed as a minister to DEFRA in October, prior to this acting as the under secretary of state for DEFRA since May 2021, has been allocated “minister for biosecurity, marine and rural affairs”. He has been made the lead for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew.

His responsibilities include biosecurity and borders, Northern Ireland, Animal welfare, Marine and oceans, DEFRA's delivery of Carbon Budgets and Net Zero, Green finance, International nature and wildlife, and rural affairs.