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  • Writer's picturePeers for the Planet

Peers hear from the Office of Environmental Protection

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

On the 27 November, Peers for the Planet hosted a briefing event in parliament with the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP).

The session was chaired by Lord Krebs, and cross-party Peers heard from OEP Chair, Dame Glenys Stacey and OEP CEO, Natalie Prosser about the progress of their work since being created under the Environment Act 2021.

The OEP was set up to protect and improve the environment by holding government and other public authorities to account, including by publishing an annual Environmental Improvement Plan progress report which is due in the new year.

Dame Glenys and Natalie Prosser outlined the purpose of the OEP and gave an overview of its role scrutinising and advising the government on environmental laws, targets, and enforcing against failures to comply with environmental law.

At around 70 staff, the OEP is a small but agile organisation and Dame Glenys explained that whilst this meant they had limited resources, one of the benefits of being a domestic environmental oversight body means it can move quickly if it needs to.

There was a discussion about the high levels of non-compliance with environmental laws and how commitments in primary legislation are sometimes not seen through and implemented. Peers highlighted how this was in contrast to other sectors such as education and criminal justice, and suggested poor levels of understanding, skills and resources at the local authority level to monitor and enforce these rules may be to blame.

Peers heard that whilst non-implementation and non-compliance was within OEP’s remit, they had to prioritise where to focus their limited resources. The OEP also explained how they play an important role in highlighting systemic issues, advising government on key areas of emerging concern (such as around soil health), and pointing out where improved environmental data and monitoring is needed to ensure we are on the right pathway to meeting our domestic and international environmental protection and improvement targets.

The Office for Environmental Protection will present its next annual independent assessment of Government’s progress in improving the natural environment in January 2024.


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