Following today’s piecemeal announcements on the Scottish Government cabinet reshuffle, RSPB Scotland has almost singly made it known that this morning’s and the SNP’s 3rd Environment Minister, Stewart Steveson has been replaced by one, Paul Wheelhouse.
As Private Eye says, ‘Who he?’
However, the understated Wheelhouse will succeed the overstated Stewart Stevenson as Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.
Lloyd Austin, RSPB Scotland Head of Conservation Policy, obligingly says: ‘RSPB Scotland welcomes Mr Wheelhouse to his new role and we look forward to working with him to tackle issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change. We hope that we can work together to address these threats and make Scotland a role model.
‘We commend the Scottish Government’s environmental ambitions and hope that we can work closely with Mr Wheelhouse to deliver all that these aims.
‘As Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson was a committed and passionate ambassador for Scotland’s natural environment and we wish him well. We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the Scottish Government and the new minister Paul Wheelhouse.’
Googling ‘Paul Wheelhouse’ discovers a clue to RSPB Scotland’s prompt celebration of the new minister’s elevation.
A List MSP for South Scotland, the SNP website says:
‘Paul is a professional economist and, since 1992, has specialised in higher and further education markets, policy evaluation and economic appraisal and impact assessment of capital projects.
‘Born in Belfast in 1970, Paul was raised in Edinburgh, attending Stewart’s Melville College.Paul gained an honours degree in Economics from the University of Aberdeen and an MBA from University of Edinburgh.
‘Paul has lived in Berwickshire since 2000, and has served as a community councillor since 2001. Paul joined the SNP in 2003 and is Organiser for Roxburgh and Berwickshire SNP.
‘He is a member of Shelter, SSPCA and RSPB.’
Interestingly apart from his personal memberships, Mr Wheelhouse’s qualifications and experience would seem better to fit a post other than environment.
The SNP’s first Environment Minister was Michael Russell – moved out after unsettling the natives in a plan to lease 25% of Scotland’s forest estate for 75 years for very little money.
He was replaced by Roseanna Cunningham who was put in to calm the waters by smiling a lot and giving the natives more or less what they wanted in the new crofting bill.
She was moved out to a variously titled ministerial role in communities because the First Minister wanted to find a snug place to tuck his old pal. Stewart Stevenson,. in to after sudden snow rather than his obvious lack of competence forced him from the Transport Brief.
Environment has tended to be the spare wheel of this government rather than the place for the seriously able.