Environment Quangos: Green initiatives in the firing line

Ministers have denied abandoning their green ambitions, despite abolishing nearly 40 environment and agriculture quangos. Most controversially, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is scrapping the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises the government on money-saving green initiatives.

The Commission on Environmental Pollution, which has advised ministers for 40 years on issues ranging from nuclear power and chemicals in food, is also being abolished.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is having to slash its £3bn annual budget by at least £750m over four years. With pressure to protect spending on front-line work, such as flood protection, an array of quangos will vanish or scaled back.

Natural England, the Government's wildlife watchdog body, is planning to slash nearly a third of its 2,500 jobs while the Agricultural Wages Board is being scrapped after 62 years' existence – a move the Unite union attacked as a "disaster" for farm workers.

Ms Spelman said: "Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday Government business."

The coalition Government has also served notice that the Infrastructure Planning Commission, set up to streamline applications for nuclear power stations, will be abolished after just a year in existence.