Office for Environmental Protection - Non-Executive Directors

Closed
Body: Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: The OEP will be headquartered in a single office space in a location to be confirmed, with a touch-down point in central London. The role will be based at the OEP’s headquarters with attendance in Westminster and other locations expected. Work is ongoing to identify suitable premises and we will take into consideration any workplace guidance requirements in light of coronavirus over the coming months.
Number of Vacancies: Up to 5
Remuneration: The remuneration is £425 per day and reasonable travel expenses are paid. The appointment is non-pensionable.
Time Requirements: Between four and six days per month, which includes preparing for meetings and travelling time

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched

    10/12/2020

  • Closed for Applications

    12/01/2021 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift

    03/02/2021

  • Final Interview Date

    08/03/2021

  • Announcement

    May 2021

 

Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Board of the OEP is its body corporate in law, to whom its legal functions and responsibilities are assigned. The Board sets the strategic direction of the organisation. It ensures the correct, efficient and effective use of the OEP’s resources, including its public funding.

The Board of the OEP includes a non-executive chair and between four and nine other members, with the majority of members being non-executives. The non-executive members are crucial in constructively challenging and holding to account the executive members.

The OEP Board has a collective responsibility to:

• establish and take forward the strategic aims and objectives of the OEP;

• set the long-term direction for the executive team and the tone and pace needed to deliver the agreed strategy and plans;

• ensure that in exercising its functions the OEP acts objectively and impartially, and has regard to the need to act proportionately and transparently, and furthers its principal objective;

• determine and review when appropriate its own procedures, meeting any statutory requirements;

• consider recommended courses of action and provide oversight and direction for staff implementing the OEP’s functions, with the Board making decisions where required for those functions that it may not delegate to Individual Board members or staff, including enforcement action against public authorities and approval of the OEP’s annual report on progress in achieving environmental improvement plans and targets;

• receive, review, and submit regular performance information concerning the ongoing delivery of the OEP against its strategy;

• ensure that Parliament is kept informed of any revision of the OEP’s strategy;

• ensure that effective and high standards of corporate governance are always in place;

• comply with the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies.

The Secretary of State is seeking to appoint up to five non-executive members to the Board of the OEP.

Board members will play an important role in supporting and encouraging the executive team in delivering the organisation’s statutory powers of scrutiny, advice, complaints and enforcement in relation to environmental law and its application. Your skills will be vital in helping the Board make the right decisions for current and future policy.

Applications are invited from high-calibre candidates from all backgrounds who can demonstrate they can contribute to the strategic leadership of the OEP and discharge a full range of non-executive responsibilities. We welcome applications from any candidates who meet the essential criteria for the role, whether experienced or first-time Non-Executive Directors.

The successful candidates must abide by the Nolan principles of public service and the Code of Conduct for Board Members.

Person Specification

Candidates must be able to demonstrate all of the following essential criteria:

• ability to support a new body in its development and evolution, ensuring it is established and functioning in line with the OEP’s purpose and operates effectively and efficiently;

• ability to analyse complex issues at a strategic level in ways which are impartial, evidence-based, creative and focused on proportionate solutions;

• ability to work collaboratively, providing effective challenge and support to the Executive in order to ensure good governance;

• highly effective leadership, interpersonal and communication skills, demonstrating an ability to influence and engage with a diverse network of stakeholders along with the ability to inspire confidence at all levels.

Expertise

A significant technical, professional or academic background in one or more of the following will be advantageous:

• environmental science and policy;

• public policy;

• law (including international law) relating to the natural environment;

• investigatory and enforcement proceedings.

A knowledge of devolution issues related to the environment, including the responsibilities of the devolved administrations, would also be desirable.

Additional Information

The OEP is being set up, and its functions defined, through the Environment Bill 2020 which is currently going through Parliament. The provisions in the Environment Bill are subject to consideration by Parliament and therefore may change during Bill passage. The OEP’s remit as currently set out in the Bill is described below.

Protecting and improving our environment
Having left the EU, the UK has the autonomy and ability to set its own future environmental protections, allowing us to deliver an ambitious environmental programme that allows us to do things better and differently. This will enable us to establish a new system of environmental governance and accountability to deliver real environmental improvement.

The OEP’s principal objective is to contribute to environmental protection and to the improvement of the natural environment. It will:

• implement long-term environmental governance;

• provide scrutiny and advice on environmental law;

• monitor and report on progress against Environmental Improvement Plans (EIPs) and targets, which are also provided for in the Environment Bill;

• investigate complaints of alleged breaches of environmental law by public authorities where these are serious and in line with the OEP’s enforcement policy;

• take legal action in serious cases, if necessary as a last resort.

The Environment Bill
The Environment Bill sets a new and ambitious domestic framework for environmental governance as we maximise the opportunities created by leaving the EU. It responds to a clear and urgent scientific case and growing public demand, for action to address environmental challenges including biodiversity loss, climate change, waste and pollution of the air, water and land. The Bill will help drive the long-term action nature needs to recover, through legally-binding targets, a new environmental enforcement body and placing environmental principles in domestic law in a consistent and transparent way. This will deliver significant environmental improvement, by restoring nature, cleaning our air, improving the management of water and decreasing waste.

Territorial jurisdiction
The OEP provisions in the Environment Bill extend to all of the UK, but with its functions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland being limited to reserved matters, such that in practical terms it will mainly operate within England. As the environment is a devolved matter (subject to a small number of reserved areas), it is for each administration to develop and deliver environmental governance proposals. The Environment Bill does include an option to extend the OEP to cover Northern Ireland, however it will be for the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly to decide whether to do so. The Scottish Government has also set out proposals to establish Environmental Standards Scotland, while the Welsh Government has set out its intention to legislate for environmental governance in Wales.

Functions
The OEP will investigate complaints made through a free-to-use system about potential breaches of environmental law by government and public authorities. Where the OEP considers that the potential breach is serious, the OEP is expected to engage in constructive dialogue with public authorities and, where appropriate, recommend remedial measures through a series of notices. If the issue is not resolved, the OEP may take enforcement action. The OEP will take a proportionate approach to enforcement, focusing on serious breaches of environmental law. It must engage with public authorities to seek a solution before considering court action, which the OEP will take via a bespoke “environmental review” mechanism. Recourse to judicial review without going through earlier stages of engagement in the OEP’s enforcement framework is available in the most urgent cases.

The OEP’s scrutiny and advice functions are complementary to its complaints and enforcement role. Its independent scrutiny of the EIP, targets and environmental law will enable it to identify issues early on, which may be before a breach of environmental law and any associated environmental harm occurs. This will allow the OEP to engage in constructive dialogue with public authorities and advise on how progress in improving the natural environment, meeting targets or implementing environmental law could be improved, moving into its enforcement role only if necessary and where serious failures to comply with environmental law have been identified.

The OEP will also provide advice to government on proposed changes to environmental law, or at the request of a Minister, on any other matter relating to the natural environment.

Role
The OEP has been designed to suit the UK’s specific context and ambitions. Its creation is an important step towards the Government’s commitment for this to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we inherited it.

The OEP will be a core part of the environmental governance framework in England. It will hold government to account on environmental commitments and oversee public bodies’ implementation of environmental law.

The OEP will provide independent scrutiny of progress in improving the natural environment under the EIP, and towards meeting targets set under the Bill. This will inform government’s thinking and will help Parliament to hold government to account based on specialised, objective, independent analyses and recommendations. The OEP will monitor the implementation of environmental law and provide advice on proposed changes to environmental law.

The OEP will also investigate complaints regarding failures of public bodies to comply with environmental law and has an enforcement function when it considers serious breaches of environmental law may have taken place, which in turn will incentivise compliance in the first place.

Independence and accountability
The OEP will be set up as a non-departmental public body and will be provided with safeguards to ensure its operational independence from government, without affecting ministerial accountability. These include a legal duty on Ministers to have regard to the need to protect the OEP’s independence.

It will be legally separate from the Crown, enabling enforcement action against Government departments where necessary. Ministers will have no powers of direction over its work programme or decision-making. The Chair will be appointed by the Secretary of State and will be subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by Parliament. Ministerial appointments will be regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

It will be granted a budget that will be ring-fenced for each spending review period. This will give the OEP greater certainty over its finances.

The OEP must lay a report on the exercise of its functions and its annual statement of accounts before Parliament, including an assessment of whether it has been provided with sufficient funds to carry out its functions. It may also submit an Estimates Memorandum alongside the Defra estimate to a Select Committee to justify any request for additional funding.

Responsibilities
• To monitor and report to Parliament on progress towards meeting any targets or interim targets set under the Environment Bill, and in improving the natural environment in accordance with the government’s environmental improvement plan (25 YEP).

• To monitor, and report to Parliament where appropriate, on the implementation of environmental law.

• To provide advice to Ministers in relation to changes to environmental law proposed by a Minister, as well as on any other matter relating to the natural environment when requested by a Minister.

• To receive, verify, and where appropriate investigate and report on, complaints into alleged failures to comply with environmental law by public authorities.

• To investigate potential serious failures by a public authority to comply with environmental law and take formal enforcement action, including through information notices, decision notices and court proceedings, where appropriate.

In fulfilling its responsibilities, the OEP is required to:

• act objectively and impartially, and have regard to the need to act proportionately and transparently;

• set out how it will respect the integrity of other relevant statutory regimes, which would involve acting strategically and considering where extensive governance already exists;

• determine, prioritise, and act on, complaint and enforcement cases that it considers have important implications, as specified in the Environment Bill;

• consider how to coordinate practically any investigation with other relevant bodies holding an investigatory remit.

Attachments
1_OEP_NED_Candidate_Pack
2_Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest and Conduct)
3_Monitoring form 2 (Diversity and political activity form)
4_Public Appointments Guidance Notes
5_Public Appointments Privacy Notice
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