Skip to main content

Get to know Rebecca Pow, Minister for Nature

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Nature
Photo of Minister Pow
Minister Pow

Growing up on my parents' mixed livestock, dairy and arable farm in Somerset, I liked nothing better than to be out feeding the calves, moving cattle from field to field, and hauling bales during summer harvest. All of this while running my own small chicken business and a bed and breakfast enterprise in the farmhouse.

Being immersed in the countryside, where lapwings nested in the open fields, hares lolloped across permanent grasslands and swallows returned every year to nest in the barn, was something to truly raise the spirits and bring joy. Every field and green lane was bounded by fulsome hedgerows burgeoning with blossoms, berries and wildlife, on account of my father’s foresight in only trimming the hedges each side every other year.

It was a nature-filled landscape and it kindled my passion for the natural world, especially as it links to our farming landscapes, and it has informed and inspired my career path. It was a working farm, part tenanted, and of necessity had to be profitable, and I was acutely conscious of the value of the farmers’ raw material – soil – and the need to treasure it. Drawing on my experience, my first university project was on farmers’ attitudes to conservation, something barely talked about in those days.

I would describe myself as a traditional Conservative with a twist of the contemporary and my own added touch of environmental green. I vowed that, should I be honoured to become our MP in Taunton Deane, as well as doing all I could for my home area, I would focus on environmental issues in Parliament. In 2018, I was pleased to be awarded a Green Heart Hero Award by The Climate Coalition, for being the "Greenest New MP" for my environmental work. And I am still proud to have held the first debate ever held in our Parliament on soil!

When I was a backbencher, several of my environmental campaigns influenced Government policy, including the ban on plastic microbeads, gaining extra protection for ancient woodland and veteran trees, legislating for net zero carbon and getting soil health firmly embedded into the future farming agenda.

I was also proud to co-edit the first publication from the Conservative Environment Network, called: "Thinking differently about our environment: a holistic approach to policy". Many of its recommendations have now been included in legislation.

I joined Defra in 2019 as Environment Minister, working on a range of subjects from animal welfare issues to flood protection. I also steered the world-leading Environment Act 2021 through Parliament, working with over 350 officials and introducing legislation that sets us on a course for a sustainable future. It was a huge honour. And later in that role, I instigated and put in place the comprehensive Plan for Water.

Now, as Minister for Nature, my focus is on biodiversity and nature recovery. It’s an extensive brief, covering wide-ranging topics such as funds to support our wildlife, habitat creation, National Parks and all our protected sites, tree planting targets and measures to protect bees and other vital pollinators. And I stress that working with our farmers remains a key to success – drawing on the experience I gained growing up and working on our family farm.

Already there are many projects that I’m thrilled to have worked on. You can read about Defra’s achievements in more detail, but my personal favourites since I took over this brief have been:

  • our announcement that we will designate a new National Park and Forest for the Nation, so that more people can connect with nature and experience its myriad benefits
  • publishing Biodiversity Net Gain legislation to ensure developments leave nature in a better state.
  • the creation of thousands of green jobs through an £80 million government nature fund

And there’s so much more to come this year. You can keep up to date with all the latest news on this blog (don’t forget to subscribe!).

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Andrea Marston posted on

    I am surprised that you have even mentioned: "measures to protect bees" when the use of neonicitinoids has yet again been approved by government. Surely a ban on this awful pesticide (which does such damage), would be a 'quick win' in the fight to save these precious pollinators? Why doesn't our government follow the EU example?

    • Replies to Andrea Marston>

      Comment by pollywight posted on

      Thanks Andrea for your comment.
      I spoke to the team responsible for this area. They said that protecting bees and other pollinators is a priority for this government, which is why restrictions preventing the general use of three neonicotinoids in agriculture have been in place for several years.
      Pesticides legislation allows emergency authorisations to be granted for pesticides, including neonicotinoids, for limited and controlled use in special circumstances where it appears necessary because of a danger that cannot be contained by any other reasonable means.

      In years of high incidence, Yellows Virus is a significant threat to our sugar beet farmers, who produce around 60% of our sugar. After careful consideration, Mark Spencer (the Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries) has permitted a neonicotinoid seed treatment (Cruiser SB) to be used on the 2024 sugar beet crop if, and only if, an independent model predicts that virus incidence will meet or exceed a threshold.
      Our support for the overall ban remains the same. Use will be tightly controlled to minimise any potential risk to pollinators.

      I hope that helps to reassure you.

      Polly Wight
      Blog Team


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.