‘The environment’ is defined by the current Concise Oxford Dictionary as, among other things, ‘the totality of the physical conditions on the earth or a part of it, esp[ecially] as affected by human activity’ (Thompson, 1995: 452). The term ‘the environment’ has an ambiguous place in the political culture of many contemporary societies. It first appeared in the discourse of parliamentary politics in Britain when it was mentioned in the Queen's Speech of July 1970. The incoming Conservative government of Edward Heath created a Department of the Environment, but, in practice, this new ministry had administrative responsibility for housing and local government, public building and works and transport. There remained, for example, a separate Department of Energy, and until ‘the appointment of ...