Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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The future for environmental standards, policy and regulation in the UK - OEP’s role and powers | Stakeholder priorities for long-term environmental protection and standards | Defra’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 | Priorities following the REUL Act

March 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference examined next steps for environmental protection and standards in the UK, and the role of the Office for Environmental Protection.

It brought stakeholders together with policymakers to assess progress so far and immediate priorities following:

  • Defra’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023, the first review of the UK’s 25 Year plan
  • the Retained EU Law (REUL) Act 2023 coming into law in September, moving away from EU environmental laws

Delegates considered the way forward for UK-based environmental standards and how to ensure compliance, looking at the role and powers of the OEP, and wider priorities for environmental policy and regulation, including alternative approaches.

Attendees assessed the evolving role of the OEP, what will be needed for it to achieve its objectives, its relationship with government departments and stakeholder groups, and implications for environment strategies. They discussed enforcement powers and key issues relating to compliance with environmental law, alongside options for sanctions relating to environmental breaches.

There was also discussion on priorities and the way forward for wider implementation of environmental standards in air quality, land use and biodiversity.

Further sessions focused on the 25 Year Environment Plan, examining progress and priorities, alongside the 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan, including implementation targets and its scope and ambition.

In the context of the passage of the REUL Act 2023, attendees also discussed the transition from EU legislation to a UK regime and its implications for environmental protection and standards in the UK.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote contributions from Natalie Prosser, Chief Executive Officer, Office for Environmental Protection; and Professor Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Oxford.

Sessions in the agenda included:

  • Regulatory scrutiny: the role of the OEP and priorities for environmental standards implementation - guidance and targets for stakeholders - balancing varying interests - regulatory coordination and powers 
  • Strategy: stakeholder priorities for long-term environmental protection and standards - progress and next steps - alternative approaches to policy
  • Policy and implementation:
    • 2023 Environment Improvement Plan implementation - working towards goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan - priorities following the REUL Act 2023
    • key choices for the shape of environmental protection legislation and regulation - policy coordination - providing clarity and certainty for stakeholders
  • Producers: best practice and issues - addressing challenges for reporting and compliance with ESG, Extended Producer Responsibility and wider environmental and sustainability requirements

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the OEP; Defra; DESNZ; DAERA, NI; DSIT; EA; Ofwat; FSA; FSS; DfE; MCA; DLUHC; Cabinet Office; CMA; DBT; ONS; ORR; Department for the Economy, NI; Department for Infrastructure, NI; Department for the Economy, NI; Department of Finance, NI; DfT; DWP; GLD; HM Treasury; Homes England; HSE; NAO; NIC; OBR; OGP; Planning Inspectorate; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government, as well as parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materials, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda