The OEP has been created to monitor the government’s environmental activities, replacing the European Commission, which had regulatory powers prior to Brexit.
Defra says the interim OEP “will provide independent oversight of the government’s environmental progress on a non-statutory basis, in advance of the full OEP being legally created”.
The interim body will be steered by the chair, Dame Glenys Stacey, and interim chief executive, Natalie Prosser, together with other non-executive directors announced last month, which included a trio from the Environment Agency (see letsrecycle.com story).
Following Royal Assent of the Environment Bill, this group will formally become the Board of the Office for Environmental Protection as an independent legal entity.
Dame Glenys Stacey said: “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.
“This is such a welcome development, taking the OEP from the bare Bill provisions and making it real”
“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.”
Alongside holding the government to account, the interim OEP will be able to do a number of things until the full body is established.
- Produce and publish an independent assessment of progress in relation to the implementation of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan
- Develop the Office for Environmental Protection’s strategy including its enforcement policy
- Receive complaints from members of the public about failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law
- Take decisions on operational matters such as staff recruitment, accommodation and facilities
- Determine approaches for how the Office for Environment Protection will form and operate, establishing its character, ways of working and voice.
The Interim Office for Environmental Protection board will hold its first meeting on 1 July in Worcester – where the organisation’s new headquarters will be based.
This is a move from the current interim environmental governance arrangements in place since the start of January and ahead of the Environment Bill creating the Office for Environmental Protection as a legal body.
The Office for Environmental Protection will be formally established shortly after Royal Assent of the Environment Bill which is currently in the committee stage in the House of Lords. Royal Assent is expected in the autumn.