What's involved?

Find out what is involved in our four-stage complaints process.

What’s involved?

Our complaints process is open to everybody and free to use. We will keep you updated on the progress of your complaint. There are four main stages in our complaints process: 

Stage 1 – You submit your complaint to us

You can submit a complaint by visiting our website and completing the complaint form on our online portal, or by downloading a copy to fill in and post or email back to us.

Stage 2 – We take a first look at your complaint

We will carry out an initial check to confirm that your complaint meets the criteria for complaining to the OEP.

Stage 3 – We assess your complaint in more detail

If our initial check suggests that your complaint may meet all the criteria for complaining to the OEP, we will assess the complaint in more detail to confirm this.

Stage 4 – The OEP will consider your complaint

We expect Parliament to take the steps needed to enable the OEP’s powers in early 2022, at which point we will review all the complaints received by that time. This will include complaints that the Interim OEP judged to be outside the criteria for complaining to the OEP.

Who can I complain about?

Your complaint should relate to a “public authority”. The Environment Act defines a public authority as a person carrying out any function of a public nature, apart from certain bodies which are specifically excluded such as a court or tribunal, or Parliament. Public authorities therefore include central and local government, government agencies and other public sector organisations. They can also include private or third sector organisations, but only if they are carrying out functions of a public nature. 

Do I need a lawyer to help me submit a complaint?

No. The complaint form has been designed to be filled in by anyone.

Are there any geographic restrictions on complaints?

We can receive complaints about suspected breaches of environmental law by public authorities in relation to England, Northern Ireland and reserved, UK-wide matters.

If you have a complaint about environmental law in Scotland please contact Environmental Standards Scotland. Their website and contact details can be found at: www.environmentalstandards.scot.

If your complaint relates to Wales please see: gov.wales/raising-concern-about-functioning-environmental-law

What to expect from the complaints process

Until the OEP is fully established we will receive and validate complaints about public authorities suspected of failing to comply with environmental law. We do not have statutory powers to investigate or make enforcement decisions. However, once the OEP has been legally established, it will consider all the complaints received by that time. This will allow the OEP to determine whether to investigate any complaints using its legal powers.

Read our Customer Charter​​​​​

How long will it take to resolve my complaint?

We are unable to say how long it will take to resolve your complaint, as every complaint is different. In addition, we will need to speak to public authorities and the time that it takes for them to respond to us may vary.

Not happy with our service?

If you are not happy with our service, please let us know. You can do this by emailing enquiries@theoep.org.uk and mark your email for the attention of the Complaints Manager. Or by writing to: 

Complaints Manager

Office for Environmental Protection
Worcestershire County Hall
Spetchley Road
Telephone: 03300 416 581
The Complaints Manager will review how our staff have handled your complaint. Once the Complaints Manager has carried out their review, they will write to you telling you what further action, if any, the OEP can take to resolve your complaint. The Complaints Manager will also advise you how you might be able to progress your complaint within the OEP or refer you to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

If you remain dissatisfied, you can ask your MP to refer the matter to PHSO. The PHSO's role is to investigate complaints referred by MPs from members of the public who feel they have suffered an injustice through poor administration by government departments and certain public organisations.

PHSO is independent of the government and the organisations it investigates. PHSO has wide-ranging powers to investigate complaints. Their services are free. For further details, you can contact PHSO's helpline on 0345 015 4033.  The helpline is currently open Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 5.00pm and Friday from 8.30am to 12pm, except bank holidays. Calls are charged at local or national rates.

You may also write to:
Parliamentary and Health Service
Mosley Street
M2 3HQ
Website: www.ombudsman.org.uk
Email: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk



What to do next

What can I complain about?

You can complain to us if you think that a public authority has broken environmental law. Our service is free for you to use.

Can I complain?

Submitting a complaint

Once you have read the guidance, you can complain to us if you think that a public authority has broken environmental law. 

Submit a complaint

Still unsure about something?

Our Frequently Asked Questions looks at the complaints process and the wider role of the OEP.

View our FAQs