Greenpeace comms director John Sauven, who Northcote reports in to, said: ‘Although we're a strictly apolitical group, we have in the past employed people closely associated with the Labour Party.'
Sauven, who is doubling up as acting director of Greenpeace, insisted: ‘This appointment doesn't herald any change in the direction of Greenpeace. Rather, it reflects a change at Westminster, with all the big parties now recognising that green issues will be a battleground at the next election and that Greenpeace wants to better promote its solutions to the threat of climate change.'
Northcote sits on Conservative Party's quality of life policy group - one of the advisory groups that feeds in to leader David Cameron's wide-ranging review of Conservative Party policy.
In the 2005 General Election, he stood unsuccessfully for the seat of Brentford and Isleworth.
Until last year, North was client services director at creative production ageny CTN Communications, where he worked on Cameron's party election leadership video.
Northcote has already started in the new role. He is advising the organisation on a range of issues, including the Government's forthcoming energy white paper.
Northcote said: ‘With all the main political parties trying to outbid each other on green issues, it is our job to ensure they actually deliver.'
Northcote replaces Simon Reddy, who had held the role of political director for the past five years. Reddy recently became manager of the C40 Cities climate leadership group.