Environmentalists have attacked the appointment of climate change sceptic and oil man Tory MP Peter Lilley to the Commons energy and climate change committee.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said the appointment was a dangerous sign that "anti-green" and "anti-science" forces were "gaining ground".

"Mr Lilley's position as a oil executive means that he is likely to be far more concerned with the short term profits of the dinosaur polluting fossil fuel barons than tackling the huge threat posed by climate change – or recognizing the opportunities of switching to a green economy," she said.

"It is especially shocking that Mr Lilley was one of only five MPs in the whole of Parliament to vote against the landmark Climate Change Act, which now underpins all our climate policy. Any attempt by Lilley to undermine this critical piece of legislation must be fiercely resisted."

Lilley was voted onto the committee by his fellow Tory MPs.

Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said it was a "deeply worrying development".

“With a growing question mark over the government’s commitment to a science-based approach to safeguarding the environment, this committee has a crucial role to play in holding ministers to account over their legally-binding climate targets," he said.

“One of Peter Lilley’s first tasks should be to meet with the foremost experts on climate change to familiarise himself with the latest science – Friends of the Earth would be more than happy to facilitate this.”

And Greenpeace policy director Joss Garman, said the addition Lilley to the committee was "part of a growing picture".

"With Owen Patterson as Environment Secretary and anti-wind campaigner John Hayes now energy minister, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Tories are gearing up to assault the Climate Change Act and increase the UK’s reliance on expensive, imported, polluting fossil fuels," he said.

Lilley, the former Tory cabinet minister who sits on the board of Tethys Petroleum, has frequently expressed doubts about the science behind climate change.

He has called for the Climate Change Act 2008, which introduced the world’s first legally binding framework to tackle climate change, to be shelved. The Hitchin and Harpenden MP was one of just five MPs who voted against the Act.

He has also attacked the the Stern Review wich examined the economic impact of climate change as "fundamentally flawed".

The job of the energy and climate change committee is to scrutinise the work of Ed Davey's Department of Energy and Climate Change.