Well this is disappointing.
We’ve been waiting on tenterhooks all day to find out who the new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would bring in to her Cabinet. We saw that she’d kept on Richard Lochhead as Cabinet Secretary (Rural Affairs & Environment) and so we’d had high hopes that Paul Wheelhouse would be retained in his junior ministerial position as Environment Minister. It wasn’t to be.
It’s just been announced that Wheelhouse has been shuffled off to Community Safety and Legal Affairs and there’s a new Environment Minister in town: Aileen McLeod MSP.
This is a great shame. Yes, we’ve criticised Wheelhouse during his two-year tenure for not doing as much as we would like, and for not doing it quickly enough. However, of all the Environment Ministers we’ve had, he has done far more than any of them to push raptor persecution up the political agenda and he’s recently gained considerable momentum in this regard. Ironically, that’s perhaps why he’s been moved along. The raptor-killing criminals are being squeezed like never before, and they’re definitely feeling the pressure. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that certain organisations have been doing some background lobbying to get rid of him.
It’s to be hoped that Wheelhouse will continue his personal interest and commitment to this issue, in his capacity as an MSP. And who knows, perhaps his latest ministerial post will also link in – community safety (banned poisons being put out in the countryside at great risk to local communities).
Thanks for your efforts, Paul – it may not have seemed like it at times but your purpose and commitment has been appreciated.
So, who’s Aileen McLeod and how long will it take her to get up to speed? We don’t know much about her environmental interests/credentials- read her bio here – but we do know she’ll be advised by the same wildlife crime policy team at Holyrood, and they are a pretty well-informed bunch. No doubt we’ll find out soon enough just how committed she is. Hope she’s been warned about the heavy influx of emails she’s likely to receive from RPS blog readers!