A new environmental strategy has been published by the newly established Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) detailing its mission, objectives and functions.
What is the OEP
The OEP was established by the Environment Act 2021. It is an independent public body, with powers to advise ministers and government departments and to hold them and other public authorities to account against their environmental responsibilities and the law. The new body’s independence is protected in law.
The OEP’s work covers England and Northern Ireland, and environmental matters reserved to the UK government. This includes matters in the marine environment where these are dealt with in environmental law or government targets and EIPs.
The OEP is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, who oversee the use of public money. Defra and DAERA ministers are accountable in Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly for this, along with the OEP’s work.
The body will publish a corporate plan each business year, setting out the resources it has available, and how it plans to make the best use of them through its activities and programmes. Whilst the OEP is a new organisation and relatively small, it intends to act strategically and make hard choices about how it will make the most difference for the environment.
The organisation will publish an annual report to demonstrate how it has used its resources, and what it has achieved during the year. This will include an assessment of whether it has been provided with sufficient sums to carry out its functions effectively.
The New Environmental Strategy
The new environmental strategy sets out how its work will contribute to improvement in the natural environment and environmental protection, including the protection of people from the effects of human activity on the environment. This is the OEP’s first strategy, and the organisation has committed to reviewing it within the first 18 months of its adoption.
The strategy sets out how the OEP will pursue its strategic objectives, ambitions, and the approaches it will take to achieve them. It sets out four objectives:
- Government is held to account for delivery of environmental goals and targets, and its plans for environmental improvement
- The environment is protected and improved, and people are protected from the effects of human activity on the natural environment, through better design and implementation of environmental laws
- Government and other public authorities abide by environmental law so it can protect people and protect and improve the environment as intended
- We are effective and efficient, with the authority, relationships, expertise, and voice to play our full part in national environmental governance
The strategy document sets out how the OEP will work, how it will deliver each of its four main functions, prioritise its activities, and work with others. The publication also sets out the organisation’s approach towards acting objectively, impartially, proportionately, and transparently.
The strategy also includes the body’s enforcement policy and provides detailed information about the way it will exercise this function.
The full strategy is available on the OEP’s website.
If you need environmental support or advice for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrook Team.