Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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

January 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will discuss the future regulatory landscape for environmental standards and priorities for the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).


The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; Defra; DIT; DfT; the CCC; Ofwat; the ORR; the Drinking Water Inspectorate; the FCDO; the HSE; the Joint Air Quality Unit; the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; the ONS; the Government Office for Science; DAERA, NI; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.


The agenda:


  • The future for environmental regulation
  • The Environment Bill and creating the OEP - roles, scope of powers and underpinning independence
    • Ambitious environmental standards - how they can be designed and enforced
    • Priorities for the OEP - monitoring progress, enforcement powers, and maintaining independence from Government
    • Realising the ambition of the Environment Bill - the OEP remit, coordination with wider policy and standards, and holding departments to account
  • Latest thinking on enhancing environmental standards and building back greener - protection priorities and scope, conservation and restoration progress, and prospect for green job creation
  • Opportunities for the UK to lead internationally, promote standards, and lead by example on the framework for environmental stewardship
  • ‘Priorities and challenges for our new domestic governance system’
  • Setting standards for the long term - decarbonisation, adapting to climate threats, and conserving biodiversity, ecosystem services and public goods
  • ‘Challenges and opportunities for the start of the OEP’

A scan of relevant developments:


  • the Office for Environmental Protection - the new independent regulator for environmental regulation and protection, with investigatory and enforcement powers, with:
    • Dame Glenys Stacey, who is a keynote speaker at this conference, appointed as its Chair
    • a new interim complaints service now in operation as part of the OEP’s mission to hold government and public bodies to account, with the Office due to operate more fully from July
  • the Environment Bill - transposing European environmental regulation into UK law, and laying the foundations for long-term governance, accountability, and targets for environmental improvement
  • the Agriculture Act - providing a legal framework for:
    • land management and agriculture support following UK exit from the EU
    • the use of additional funds for public goods to enhance environmental treatment and animal welfare
  • The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - flagship government policy aimed at fast-tracking the path to UK net-zero emissions, and reinforcing steps to protect the natural environment including on land management practices and nature-based solutions for adaptation and mitigation

Key areas for discussion:


The OEP - scope, powers, and priorities for enforcing environmental regulation


  • setting the framework - the OEP alongside other environmental bodies and regulators, the potential shape of its powers and how they could be exercised, and how to underpin independence
  • setting standards and holding parties to account - creating immediate and long-term targets, incorporating evidence into decision-making, and what is needed from monitoring and progress reports
  • ensuring effectiveness - the processes of policy scrutiny, enforcing climate and environmental legislation, and exercising sanctions
  • coordination - relationships with existing regulators and environmental bodies, statutory advisers and evidence gathering, accounting for the needs of regulators and their industries, and latest thinking on the division of roles and enforcement duties
  • policy continuity - contingency plans for legislative delay, ensuring governance gaps are filled, safeguards for conservation, and planning for interim arrangements

Supporting a green economic recovery and opportunities for UK environmental leadership


  • the COVID-19 recovery plan - and what is needed to enable standards to drive sustainable development, lead by example internationally, and overcome practical challenges 
  • positioning the environment at the centre of economic recovery - engagement with industry and public land owners, focusing on where conservation enhances economic growth, and taking advantage of nature-based solutions for cost effective and sustainable climate adaptation
  • green job creation and recovery across the UK - strategies for enhancing standards and restoration across key environmental sectors, mobilising public and private investment and local engagement, creating high-value employment, and putting in place the necessary skills pipeline and retraining provision
  • opportunities for world leading UK standards - engaging with stakeholders in designing effective rules and achievable pathways for net-zero targets, and demonstrating UK leadership at COP26

Environmental stewardship to meet long-term challenges


  • key environmental sectors - priorities for policymakers and stakeholders in formulating responses to challenges, coordinating adaptation and preparedness in the face of climate threats, meeting decarbonisation obligations, and protecting and improving agriculture, land use, and water resources 
  • environmental standards and the net-zero agenda - utilising sector-by-sector reviews, sequestering approaches such as tree planting, and setting cost reduction guidance for low-carbon transitions
  • public goods and behavioural change - incentive and sanctions systems, encouraging better use of land and resources, and improving industry and public communication on biodiversity protection
  • adaptation and safeguarding against future climate and other risks - the way forward for developing best practice for natural climate resilience, scaling up public and private adaptation investment, and overcoming delivery challenges for environmental preparedness across key sectors

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentarians from the House of Commons and officials from BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; DAERA, NI; the Drinking Water Inspectorate; the Environment Agency; the Health and Safety Executive; ICCAN; the Joint Air Quality Unit; the Committee on Climate Change; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; Ofwat; the Office for National Statistics; the Office of Rail and Road; the Office of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement; the National Audit Office; the Planning Inspectorate; the Government Office for Science; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from the AGF; Agricultural Industries Confederation; Airbus Defence and Space; Aldersgate Group; Anglian Water; Atkins; BAE Systems; Bristol City Council; British Aerosol Manufacturers' Association; Burges Salmon; Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council; CGI UK; Chavereys; Cornwall Community Flood Forum; Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - Northern Ireland; Dwr Cymru Welsh Water; Environment Agency; Environmental Protection UK; Fera Science; Fidra; Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) UK; Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC; Hertfordshire County Council; Keep Britain Tidy; Kier Group; L'Oréal; MWH Treatment; Natural Resources Wales; NatureScot; Network Rail; NRW; Office for Nuclear Regulation; Ofqual; Project 2030; Regenerative Food and Farming CIC; Smarter Carbon CIC; South East Water; SUEZ; The London Waste and Recycling Board; Ulster Wildlife; United Utilities; University of Nottingham; University of Sussex; Valpak; WTI UK and Yorkshire Water.


Press passes have been reserved by representatives from the ENDS Report; The Environment Magazine; The Water Report and Utility Week.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***


  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles