Owen Paterson is far from a household name, but the significance of his appointment as Environment Secretary has not been lost on the green lobby groups. As far as they’re concerned, this is war. They are already denouncing him as a “prominent hater of wind turbines” and overall climate change sceptic.
It is just as well, then, that Paterson has spent two years at Northern Ireland, learning the art of political combat. For his critics are quite right to detect a shift in policy. According to Downing Street, his mission is to revive the rural economy – and the main species he has been asked to protect is the humans trying to make ends meet. As for his leader, the man once photographed being pulled by dogs over a Norwegian glacier is tiptoeing away from his old policies as he might do from embarrassing photographs of his student exuberance.