'Bonfire of the quangos'... oh ****

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Fri Sep 24 21:12:44 BST 2010

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The "bonfire of the quangos" list is on-line at 

Some interesting bodies on the list from the point of view of 
protection/pollution of the environment/countryside -- 
# BNFL (indicating a decision in reprocessing pending?)
# UK Atomic Energy Authority (perhaps)
# Audit Commission
# English Heritage
# Commission on Architecture and the built Environment (perhaps)
# Carbon Trust/Energy Savings Trust to be decided
# Advisory committees on organic standards/packaging/pesticides
# Agricultural Wages boards/committees
# British Waterways
# Commons Commissioners
# Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards
# Health Protection Agency
# A whole string of independent committees on radiation/food 
safety/carcinogens/air pollution and health
# Commission for Integrated Transport
# Animal Procedures Committee (to be decided)

However, the ones which I think are going to be really problematic for 
environmental campaigns are:
~ Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
~ Sustainable Development Commission
~ Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Environment Agency (to be 
decided -- they're legally required as part of enacting various laws and can't 
simply be erased, but their scope could be severely diminished -- as in the 
days of the former HMIP).

OK, so most of these bodies are hardly revolutionary, but many -- like Royal 
Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Sustainable Development 
Commission -- have consistently produced research and reports that are not 
only critical of present government policy, but also give valuable weight to 
the need for future policy change that often assist the work of the 

This is very regressive; suddenly I find myself thinking back to the days when 
Nicholas Ridley ran the Department of the Environment and some of the absurd 
decisions that resulted from that period. E.g., look at the way the new 
planning minister has slashed many progressive planning policies in the last 
few months (OK, they abolished imposed housing targets, but all that does is 
put the emphasis back on developers to question whether local councils have 
allocated enough land for housing as part of their appeals because there is no 
official figure -- which was the situation back in the 80s).

If these few, but authoritative, independent voices are silenced and their 
functions absorbed back into political policy-making circles, then that's a 
level of centralisation not seen since Thatcher carried out much the same sort 
of action in the early 80s -- and the environment suffered for the next decade 
or so afterwards as a result. It not only means that decisions are 
politicised, but the decisions on the scope of research or the terms of 
investigations are decided politically rather than on the "need" for 
knowledge. As result such decisions are not just subject to political bias, 
but also to behind-the-scenes corporate lobbying.

...if this goes ahead the environment is going to be "CON-DEM-ned". Probably a 
bit of a generational thing, but you had to have been a campaigner in the 
1980s, before things like the Environment Agency (or the previous National 
Rivers Authority) existed, and when policy was run direct from Whitehall, to 
appreciate what this entails. And as in the 1980s, this is a carve-up of 
policy that favours the 'development' (as in, laissez faire economics) agenda.


- -- 

"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
For details see http://www.fraw.org.uk/ebo/

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Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
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