Office for Environmental Protection ‘begins work in earnest’

England’s new environmental watchdog has set to work on an interim basis, ahead of formal establishment under the Environment Bill, the government announced this morning.

Dame Glenys Stacey heads up the OEP. Photograph: Colin Stout Dame Glenys Stacey heads up the OEP. Photograph: Colin Stout

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) now forms a non-statutory body, to be led by chair Dame Glenys Stacey, interim chief executive Natalie Prosser and non-executive directors including ENDS’ former legal commentator, emeritus professor Richard Macrory.

The group will hold its first meeting in Worcester, where the organisation will be headquartered, today. Once the bill receives royal assent, they will form the OEP’s board.

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“This is such a welcome development, taking the OEP from the bare Bill provisions and making it real. It is a significant step in the creation of a new and powerful independent environmental regulator, able to hold the government and public bodies to account with real authority,” said Stacey.

“The OEP will be one of the most important organisations of our time. We now begin work in earnest, as we seek to make a lasting difference to our natural environment for future generations,” she added.

It has in fact been operating on a more limited scale for some time, in the guise of the ‘Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat’. The complaint system was launched in January, though the body has not been in position to respond to them.

The Climate Change Committee was launched in a similar way, ahead of formal establishment under the Climate Change Act 2008.

The new interim OEP will be able to:

  • Produce and publish an independent assessment of progress on the implementation of the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan.
  • Develop its strategy and enforcement policy.Receive complaints from members of the public about failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law.
  • Recruit staff and take other practical decisions, such as on facilities.
  • Establish how it will operate and use its voice.

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