8 June 2021 by James Langley

Former Environment Agency trio join OEP

The first four non-executive board members of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) include three individuals with past links to the Environment Agency.

As a new environmental watchdog, the OEP has been created to monitor the government’s environmental activities, replacing the European Commission, which had regulatory powers prior to Brexit.

The new body will operate in an interim role from its Worcester base from 1 July this year (see letsrecycle.com story).

It will have the power to run its own independent investigations and numbers the Environment Agency among the bodies it will scrutinise.

Clockwise from top left: Julie Hill, Dr Paul Leinster, Professor Richard Macrory and Professor Dan Laffoley

The four board members, announced yesterday (7 June) by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), are: Julie Hill MBE, Dr Paul Leinster CBE, Professor Richard Macrory and Professor Dan Laffoley. Only Professor Laffoley appears to have had no direct prior work for the Agency.

They will join chair Dame Glenys Stacey in advising government and holding public authorities to account for their implementation of environmental law.

Calibre

Welcoming the appointments, Dame Glenys said: “I am delighted with the calibre of our new board members. Together they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience of the environment and environmental law, and a real commitment to the OEP.

“We will begin work together imminently, setting our ambitions and goals at the highest level so as to make the most difference, on behalf of current and future generations.”

The OEP will formally begin its statutory functions once the Environment Bill receives royal assent, which is expected in the autumn. However, it will be set up in an interim, non-statutory form from July.

Appointments

Ms Hill is the chair of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and a former board member of the Environment Agency. She is also currently chair of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) and deputy chair of the Advisory Committee for Social Science for the Food Standards Agency. Ms Hill is also the former roles director of the environmental think-tank Green Alliance.

“I am delighted with the calibre of our new board members”

Dame Glenys Stacey

Dr Leinster first joined the the Agency in 1998 and was chief executive for more than seven years until 2015. At present he is chair of Water Resources East, the Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, and a housing association called BPHA.

Professor Macrory served as a board member of the Agency between 1999 and 2004. He is currently an emeritus professor of environmental law at University College, London, where he set up and was the first director of the Centre for Law and the Environment.

A leader on marine protected areas (MPAs) and conservation, Professor Laffoley is currently marine vice chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s world commission on protected areas.

‘World-class OEP’

Commenting on the appointments, recycling minister Rebecca Pow said: “These appointments will help to establish a world-class Office for Environmental Protection that champions and upholds environmental protections.

“Through our landmark Environment Bill, we will ensure the OEP is a strong and independent body that holds the government to account and plays a key role in our commitment to enhance our environment as we build back greener.”

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