OEP plans focus on nature recovery, water quality and effective governance 

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will be prioritising work on nature recovery, water quality and effective governance over the next three years.  

The OEP’s latest corporate plan sets out its priorities and work programmes as it continues its work in England and Northern Ireland.  

Dame Glenys Stacey, Chair of the OEP, said: “How society stewards the environment for future generations is a seminal question of our time. The situation is pressing.  

“The actions we collectively take in these coming few years will be critical to whether the environmental ambitions the nation has can be achieved – for our climate, the diversity and abundance of our plants and wildlife on land and at sea, the cleanliness of our waters and air and in so many other respects too.    

“Government and public authorities must play a leading role. The challenge for governments and for wider society is to deliver against the commitments made, and deliver now.   

“Our new Corporate Plan explains how we will fulfil our particular role in the three years ahead. We focus on those aspects of the environment where we see both compelling need, and where our powers can protect most and stimulate greatest improvement.” 

The corporate plan identifies three main areas of focus for the OEP: 

  • Scrutinise government’s plans and targets to improve nature. This will be a main focus of the next Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) progress report, after our previous report found that government was not demonstrably on track to meet its ambitions. We are particularly interested in the target to halt nature’s decline by 2030, and how this, as well as other targets, will be met.  
  • Scrutinise the implementation of laws which provide for clean water, and how they are complied with 
  • Maintain a disciplined focus on the implementation of effective environmental governance, including through implementation of the Environment Act 

Natalie Prosser, Chief Executive of the OEP, said as a relatively young organisation, the organisation would continue to refine and improve its approach as it gained operational experience, and would ensure it could adapt its work to respond to emerging issues, complaints received and should priorities need to change. 

“We have a talented and committed team in our Worcester and Northern Ireland bases and are grateful to have benefited from the continued support of a wide and diverse range of stakeholders in all our work. I look forward to working with all of them to deliver this ambitious plan,” she added.  

The OEP’s complaints and enforcement work is ongoing. There are two live investigations, one into the regulation of Combined Sewer Overflows in England and another into ammonia emissions advice in Northern Ireland, with capacity included in the plan to progress these and commence others where that is identified as being necessary.