CAMPAIGNERS for animal rights celebrated Owen Paterson’s sacking as Environment Secretary.

He oversaw the controversial pilot badger culls and ran into trouble over his handling of the winter floods and his scepticism about man-made climate change.

On the eve of his sacking, Friends of the Earth dumped hundreds of pairs of wellington boots outside Defra’s offices.

It was a reminder of his January visit to the flooded Somerset Levels for which he wore a smart suit and shoes.

John Sauven, Greenpeace’s executive director, also said: “If history remembers him, it will not be kind.

“An ideological attachment to climate-change denial saw him sack people working on flood defences just when we needed them most.”

However, Meurig Raymond, NFU president, thanked Mr Paterson for his hard work and dedication to farming.

He said: “He showed an understanding of farmers and the farming industry and knew how important food production and food security is.”

Henry Robinson, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said Mr Paterson had served with great integrity.

“He operated in a tough climate, and took some difficult decisions,” he said.

“We thank him for the good work he has done during his term as Environment Secretary.” George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, also paid tribute to Mr Paterson.

“He took many tough decisions and although we did not agree with all of them, you could not doubt that he was a passionate supporter of farming, the countryside and rural Britain,” he said.

Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, added: “Owen Paterson has worked extremely hard as Secretary of State and has always had the interests of the countryside and rural communities clearly at heart, but the Alliance remains concerned that no matter who is environment minister, fundamental issues within the department make this an almost impossible role.”

All the organisations looked forward to working with new Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

Mr Robinson said: “It is vital that the countryside and the businesses based there are not disadvantaged by legislation which is predominantly urban focused. We hope she wastes no time in grasping the nettle on the key issues for food and farming and presents a bold vi-sion. We would like to see her continue the good policy work started under her predecessor particularly in areas such as animal and plant health and flood management.”

Mr Dunn had already written to Ms Truss with a number of issues to discuss, including:

  • Altering taxation to encourage land owners to offer long term farm tenancies;
  • Expanding use and scope of internal drainage boards;
  • Removing the Feed in Tariff (FiT) for crop fed anaerobic digestion systems to stop its impact on farm rents;
  • Using the Rural Development Programme for England to encourage greater numbers of breeding livestock in upland areas; 
  • Allowing paper applications to the new CAP schemes by those unable to use the new digital applications.