Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

The future for environmental standards in the UK and implementing the Office for Environmental Protection

Morning, Thursday, 6th February 2020

Central London


The conference takes place following the anticipated introduction of the full Environment Bill and will be an opportunity to consider its aims, including to:

  • establish long-term environmental governance and accountability;
  • improve air and water quality;
  • restore and enhance nature and green spaces; and
  • develop a more sustainable resource and waste management system.


Keynote contributions:

  • Policy priorities for the environmental standards and the Office for Environmental Protection - with a senior speaker confirmed from Defra;
  • Environmental regulation post-Brexit - with Emma Howard Boyd, Chair, Environment Agency; and
  • The in-tray for the OEP - with Sally Hayns, Chief Executive Officer, CIEEM.

Further sessions:

  • The Office for Environmental Protection - role, scope of powers and implementation:
    • Differentiating the role of the OEP from existing bodies and mitigating duplicated powers;
    • Assessing the Office’s enforcement powers, and its role in investigating complaints;
    • The relationship of the OEP with devolved administrations;
    • Businesses priorities for the powers and scope of the new body;
    • Key issues for implementation - time scale, independence and positioning; and 
  • Environmental standards in the UK - pollution and emissions, sustainability and ecosystem regeneration.

Assessing the Office for Environmental Protection

With an interim environment watchdog announced earlier this year - aimed at addressing any gaps in governance until the Office for Environmental Protection is established - delegates will examine the Government’s proposals on the design of the body, including its potential role, overarching powers, and how it would be implemented.

Areas for discussion include whether the OEP should be able to levy fines and further options for enforcement measures over non-compliant bodies in areas such as air, waste, water, and chemical regulation

Delegates will consider these powers in the context of concerns about potential cross-over and duplication of scrutiny and advisory roles with other existing bodies, such as the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Priorities for stakeholders - confidence, continuity and independence

The agenda looks at the priorities for businesses in the development of the OEP - including their need for confidence in the delivery of policy commitments in the face of political uncertainty, and the opportunity for organisations to have options for redress through the legal and regulatory system equivalent to those currently in place.

Delegates will also consider issues around maintaining regulatory support in areas such as nature recovery, biodiversity, and net gain.

Following the pre-legislative inquiries by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the Environmental Audit Committee, attendees will also look at the challenges of ensuring independence and accountability of the new watchdog.

UK-wide environmental standards

With the ‘green watchdog’ set to responsibilities for environmental governance in England as well as reserved matters throughout the UK - and as the Government discusses potential framework - delegates will examine the potential future relationship of the OEP with devolved administrations.

Further sessions focus on the potential opportunities and challenges for developing UK-wide environmental standards across multiple areas, such as waste and water - taking into account policy outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy and PR19 Draft Determinations to improve sustainable processes.

Keynote Speaker

Emma Howard Boyd

Chair, Environment Agency

Keynote Speaker

Emma Howard Boyd

Chair, Environment Agency


Professor Liz Fisher

Professor of Environmental Law, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford

Sally Hayns

Chief Executive Officer, CIEEM

Richard Blythe

Head of Policy, RTPI

Senior speaker confirmed from Biffa

Senior speaker confirmed from Defra