We cannot investigate every complaint we receive or offer personal redress, but the information we receive through complaints informs our work. For example, helping to identify wider thematic or systemic issues or concerns about how an environmental law is implemented which we can address through our other functions.
For further information, see our complaints process.
On this page, find out how you can submit a complaint to the OEP.
Tips for submitting a complaint
1. Familiarise yourself with the role of the OEP and our complaints process
The OEP has a distinctive complaints process. We can only consider complaints if they meet specific requirements set out in the Environment Act 2021. Before contacting us, we advise you to familiarise yourself with the role of the OEP and the criteria that must be met before we can consider a complaint. Use our dedicated eligibility checker to check whether or not the OEP can consider your complaint.
2. Ensure you have completed the complaints process of the public authority you wish to complain about
We are only able to consider matters that have exhausted the relevant public authority’s own applicable complaints procedure. Please check whether the public authority you are contacting us about has its own applicable complaints procedure and, if so, ensure that this is completed before contacting us. If you have not complained to the relevant authority and are not sure who to contact, check our useful information and contacts page.
3. Submit your complaint without delay
The specific time limits for submitting a complaint are set out in the Environment Act 2021 – further detail is provided on our website. We advise you to submit your complaint to the OEP as soon as is reasonably possible. Prompt submission reduces the possibility that your complaint will be declined on the basis of being outside of the relevant time limits.
4. Respond to our requests for information promptly
Similarly, we may occasionally ask you to provide us with further information to support our assessment of your complaint. In such cases, please submit the information promptly and by any deadline we have set. If we do not receive the requested information by the deadline, we may not be able to progress your complaint further.
5. Be clear and concise
The most effective complaints convey information in a clear, concise and easy to understand way. In drafting your complaint, we advise you to focus on the main issues and avoid unnecessary detail. It may help to structure your complaint in way that outlines the following:
- what the event that, in your view, indicates a potential failure to comply with environmental law
- which public authority or authorities were involved
- when the event occurred,
- where the event occurred
- why you believe that the OEP should consider the matter.
6. Provide relevant supporting information
In submitting your concerns, we would advise you to provide any information that is relevant and you feel supports your complaint.
Submit a complaint online
You can submit a complaint through our online portal. Before you do this, first check whether the complaint is something the OEP can accept by completing our eligibility checker. After you have completed the eligibility checker, you will be able to access the portal. You may want to find out about what we can investigate before you complete this.
Submit a complaint by email or writing
You can download a copy of the form, fill it out and post or email it back to us at:
Office for Environmental Protection
We will send an acknowledgement when we receive your complaint.
We will not accept complaints where postage is due.
Getting help to make your complaint
If you are unable to submit your complaint online, in writing or by email, contact us and we will discuss how we can support you to submit your complaint.
Our service should not place anyone with a disability at a disadvantage. We have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to meet individual needs. If you have specific requirements, please contact us and tell us what you need. We will do our best to communicate with you in the way that you have asked. You can also ask us to send you a paper copy of our complaints form.
Telephone: 03300 416 581
Line are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. If you are unable to speak to someone you can leave a voice message and a member of the team will return your call.
Calls costs the same as a call to a normal home or business landline.
We aim to respond within 10 working days
Complaints about more than one public authority
If your complaint relates to more than one public authority, you only need to submit one complaint.
You should list all the authorities you think are involved and submit any evidence you have about them.
Equality and diversity
We commit to:
- dealing with you without discrimination or prejudice
- respecting equality and human rights in accordance with Public Sector Duty principles
- making our services easily available and as accessible to everyone as reasonably possible
We usually need your name and contact details when you submit a complaint. This is so we can keep you informed about the progress of your complaint.
We may need to give your name to the public authority you are complaining about, so that it can check its records to confirm that you have completed its internal complaints process.
We can only accept anonymous complaints where there is a good reason to do so.
If you wish to complain anonymously, please contact us so that we can discuss your needs and agree the best approach.
We are committed to keeping any personal data you submit to us secure. Please see our Data Privacy Notice for details of how we will handle your personal data in line with data protection legislation.
We aim to deal with people professionally, courteously, quickly, effectively and without incident.
Similarly, we will not accept threatening, bullying, discriminatory or abusive behaviour towards our staff. Such behaviour may make it necessary for us reduce or cease contact with someone.
We are committed to being an inclusive and accessible organisation, if you require a reasonable adjustment, please notify us. A reasonable adjustment could include things like providing documents in larger print or braille and communicating over the phone instead of written communication. For more information, please see our Reasonable Adjustment Policy.
We welcome feedback on our service and how we deal with complaints. We use it to review and improve our services. If you would like to provide feedback on this procedure you can contact us.