The Environment Secretary has apologised for not recusing himself sooner from a decision on an incinerator proposed for his constituency.

The Government announced last week that Steve Barclay had been recused from any decision on granting a permit to the proposed incinerator in Wisbech, which is in the minister’s North East Cambridgeshire seat.

Appearing at the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Mr Barclay said he had previously “stepped back” from the decision, but apologised for not formally recusing himself earlier and not mentioning his previous opposition to the incinerator in his register of interests.

He said: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise to the committee for not formally recusing myself sooner and updating the register of interests regarding what was well known in public but should have been updated on the actual record regarding my opposition to the incinerator.”

He said he had been “clear throughout that I need to step back from any decision” but had not realised that he needed to formally recuse himself from the decision until later.

Mr Barclay added: “As soon as I was notified by the permanent secretary of the need to formally recuse, that’s exactly what I did.”

The BBC reported last week that officials had raised concerns about a possible, or perceived, conflict between Mr Barclay’s constituency and ministerial roles in relation to the plant.

Labour has demanded “urgent answers”, with shadow environment secretary Steve Reed asking whether Mr Barclay had engaged in any communication with the Environment Agency (EA), junior Defra ministers or the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero on the incinerator.

On Tuesday, Mr Barclay said: “To reassure the committee, I have never made representations as Secretary of State to the EA in terms of the incinerator in Wisbech, but I will respond to my shadow secretary on those.”

But Mr Reed said there were still “serious concerns” about whether Mr Barclay tried to persuade other ministers.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister retained full confidence in Mr Barclay, saying it was “right” for him “to address this at the committee in full”.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) gave the Wisbech plant, proposed by German-based energy company MVV Environment, the green light last month after an examination by the planning inspectorate.

But to move forward, the scheme must also be granted a permit by the Environment Agency (EA), a public body sponsored by Defra.

Farming minister Mark Spencer is now responsible for making any decision on the incinerator following Mr Barclay’s recusal.