Royal Show 09: Tories plan quango review

Natural England and the Environment Agency will be reviewed as part of the Conservative‘s plans to overhaul quangos if they are elected.

Speaking at the Royal Show in Warwickshire on Tuesday (7 July), shadow environment minister Nick Herbert said his party planned to look at the dozens of quangos that operate under DEFRA.

“I am certain there are savings to be made by tackling the burden of bureaucracy,” he said.

Echoing Conservative leader David Cameron similar pledge earlier this week to cut Britain’s 790 quangos, Mr Herbert added: “Our overall strategy of delivering more for less will be applied in DEFRA.”

There were seven executive agencies within DEFRA, on top of an additional nine bodies like the Agricultural Wages Board, two levy boards, the Environment Agency and Natural England, to name only a few, said Nick Herbert.

Commenting on the “lamentable” performance of the RPA over mapping inaccuracies, he said that the function of the RPA would be also under scrutiny in the review. “The map debacle is a result of catastrophic human error,” he said.

The budget for DEFRA would remain frozen in real terms, reaffirming the need for savings to be made.

Mr Herbert confirmed that the review of government agencies will take place before the election, however exact timings are yet to be announced.

The news came at the launch of the Conservative’s manifesto for rural communities – Rural Action – which took place at the Royal Show today (7 July).

The paper has four key aims: To respect rural people, protect rural services, give power to rural communities and revive the rural community.

A radical school policy, rural tax relief to promote business and scrapping the top-down approach to planning were all cited as possible ways of achieving these aims.

Mr Herbert also outlined plans for a slice of the £600m made available through the RDP and then through the RDA to be channelled instead into local Councils for affordable housing.

“Rural England has suffered a decade of disrespect by Labour. Local services have been withdrawn and rural communities have been denied a voice,” he said.

“The rural community are crying out to be heard, and they should not and will not be ignored by a Conservative government.”

An additional agricultural policy paper will be published later this year.

Adrian Gane, Country Land and Business Association chief executive, said that the report’s objectives resonated with members.

“Reduced regulation, implementing a more sensible planning policy and enabling affordable housing are all positive commitments,” he said.