OEP confirms appointment of CEO

The Office for Environmental Protection has confirmed the appointment of its Chief Executive Officer. 

Natalie Prosser, who has been in the role on an interim basis since February 2021, has been announced as the successful applicant for the permanent position.

Dame Glenys Stacey, Chair of the OEP, said: “Following a comprehensive and competitive process, I am pleased to announce that our current interim CEO Natalie was successful in her application for the permanent position. 

“She has already delivered much in leading on work to establish the organisation, develop our strategy and prepare to undertake our functions. I am confident she will continue to take the OEP forward with purpose and confidence.

“I would like to congratulate her on her appointment, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with her at what is an extremely exciting and challenging time for our organisation.”

Natalie is a solicitor by background, with fifteen years in government, specialising in public and regulatory law, regulatory operations and governance. Her previous roles have included General Counsel at the Gambling Commission, Director of Operations, Vocational and Technical Qualifications and Director of Legal at Ofqual and regulatory and policy lead on the independent Farm Inspection and Regulation Review.

Natalie said: “It has been a privilege to have led the setup of the OEP and to see it now begin its work in earnest. The OEP is now well on its way to establishing itself as an independent, expert and authoritative voice, wielding real influence and holding government and public authorities to account for delivering on their commitments. 

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the OEP, alongside its Board, as its permanent CEO and for the chance to make the kind of difference that I believe the OEP can make.”

The appointment of the permanent CEO completes the recruitment of the OEP’s executive team. Alongside Natalie, this now comprises: 

•    Richard Greenhous, Chief of Staff

•    Helen Venn, Chief Regulatory Officer

•    Simon Brockington, Chief Insights Officer

•    Peter Ashford, General Counsel


Richard Greenhous 

Richard Greenhous brings over 20 years’ experience in policy, strategy, operations, people and change management. Prior to joining the OEP, Richard was Director of Forest Services at the Forestry Commission, where he led work to protect, improve and expand England’s woodlands. Before that Richard led work on green growth in East London and the Thames Gateway, including Olympic legacy.  

Richard’s earlier career spanned the Cabinet Office, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Department for Communities & Local Government; and policies including children and families, fire and rescue services, local and regional government and better regulation. 

Helen Venn 

Helen Venn brings to the OEP a strong legal background and over 20 years regulatory experience of investigation and enforcement. Helen has spent the last seven years as an Executive Director and Programme Director at the Gambling Commission where she led on licencing, compliance and enforcement. Helen also drove significant cultural change to operations, to increase effectiveness and efficiency.  

Previous roles have included Head of Authorisation and Head of Supervision at the Solicitors Regulation Authority where Helen led cross organisational teams to investigate high profile and complex regulatory cases. Prior to that Helen spent five years as an Investigative Lawyer responsible for prosecuting serious and complex fraud cases and potential miscarriages of justice. 

Simon Brockington

Simon Brockington is an experienced leader within natural science-based organisations and brings over 30 years' experience working within the environmental sector to the OEP. He joined the OEP from Defra where he was the senior civil servant leading on the marine environment. In this role he was policy lead for planning and licensing at sea, as well as completion of the network of Marine Conservation Zones.  He also led proposals to establish the first highly protected marine areas in UK waters. Simon gained his PhD in marine biology while living and diving in Antarctica. 

Prior to joining Defra, Simon was Executive Secretary at the International Whaling Commission and Head of Conservation at Marine Conservation Society.  He has a lifelong interest in the environment and was awarded the Polar Medal for scientific research in 2007. 

Peter Ashford 

Peter Ashford has a wealth of experience of in environmental law and plays a critical role in ensuring the work of the OEP meets expected standards and delivers our strategic objectives. Peter held the position of Head of Legal for the Interim OEP before transitioning to General Counsel following the OEP’s establishment in January 2022.  

Peter worked in private practice for several years specialising in environmental litigation, before joining the Environment Agency where he has held a number of roles. Immediately prior to joining the OEP, Peter led the legal team specialising in flood risk and planning law at the Environment Agency, advising in particular on issues with national or strategic implications. Peter has also been active in helping establish the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE) as a forum to support public prosecutors in tackling environmental crime. 

Natalie Prosser
OEP CEO, Natalie Prosser