Labour inherits a host of environmental issues that will need to be dealt with by a department which is unprotected and could face a further financial squeeze.

The new Government is already being urged to “hit the ground running” and “crack on” with nature recovery and investment to support the countryside, where it has won many rural seats as the old “Tory Shire” stereotype fades away.

High on the agenda for new Environment Secretary Steve Reed will be the polluted and degraded state of rivers, lakes and coastal waters, which have prompted widespread criticism of government and water companies along with high leakage rates and shareholder pay-outs.

The election has also come after the UK saw its second wettest autumn and winter on record, as storms flooded homes and left fields sodden and unplantable, with analysis suggesting the extreme rainfall was made more intense by global warming.

Farmers have endured a torrid winter, which in England comes as the sector moves over to a new post-Brexit payment system of Environmental Land Management schemes (Elms) which pays for “public goods” such as healthy soil and habitat creation, replacing subsidies based largely on area of land farmed.

While Labour’s manifesto pledged to make Elms “work for farmers and nature”, it was silent on the level of funding it would commit to the scheme in this Parliament, something which National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Tom Bradshaw labelled “deeply disappointing”.

In the wake of the election result, Mr Bradshaw said: “For Britain’s farmers, the number one priority for the new Labour Government must be to set an increased multi-year agriculture budget for the duration of the next Parliament.

“This is about investing in the future of British farming – in homegrown food, in the environment and in renewable energy.”

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president Victoria Vyvyan said: “The new Government must hit the ground running.

“From providing certainty around the farming budget to overhauling the archaic planning system, it needs to go for growth with a robust and ambitious strategy for the countryside.”

The Elms programme is also key to delivering targets in the Environment Act, such as halting the decline in species by 2030, which Labour has committed to meeting, and conservationists have called for a ramp-up in investment for nature-friendly farming.

There will be key demands from green groups which failed to materialise in the last parliament, including a ban on sale of horticultural peat and support for reintroducing lost species such as beavers to the wild.

And conservationists will also be looking to the new Environment Secretary to deliver on tree-planting targets and a global commitment to fully protect 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030.

Speaking at the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government, Mr Reed said: “It is the privilege of my life to be appointed as the Secretary of State For Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

“There is no sugarcoating it: we face a crisis point. Record levels of sewage in our rivers, lakes and seas. Nature is dying. Confidence amongst farmers at the lowest on record.

“It will take years to reverse this damage, but the work of change begins now.”

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has been appointed Farming Minister. He steps into the role after four years as Labour's Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.