MPs give green light to Dame Glenys Stacey as Chair of OEP

MPs have today published their assessment of the Government’s choice for Chair of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), a new public body designed to hold the Government to account for breaches of environmental law, replacing the role formerly held by the European Commission prior to the UK’s exit from the EU.

Glenys Stacey
Following a pre-appointment hearing on Tuesday (15 December), the Environmental Audit (EAC) Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  (EFRA) Committee supported the appointment of Dame Glenys Stacey as Chair-designate.

Despite their satisfaction with Dame Glenys as Chair, the two Committees highlighted the concerns raised by their predecessors in the last Parliament about the OEP’s independence as a non-departmental public body of Defra, with key appointments being made by the Secretary of State. They therefore called on Dame Glenys to publicly raise any concerns with the Select Committees about Governmental interference with the OEP.

Commenting on the appointment, Neil Parish MP, Chair of the EFRA Committee, said: "The Chair of the new OEP must ensure its independence from Government. Dame Glenys Stacey's track record as an effective regulator, who has used both carrot and stick to hold public bodies to account, means I have faith in her achieving that.

“I look forward to her honouring her commitment to enforcing some of the most important laws of our time, without fear or favour."

Philip Dunne MP, Chair of the EAC Committee, added: “I was very impressed with Dame Glenys’ credentials and experience at setting up regulatory entities from scratch, and I am confident that she will do a good job at the helm of the OEP.

“Dame Glenys acknowledged that she will need to surround herself with staff experienced in environmental issues, and it was encouraging to learn that environmental analysts from the Natural Capital Committee secretariat will form the initial core of the interim OEP staff.

“The OEP will pick up the environmental regulatory responsibilities from the EU, working with the equivalent bodies in Scotland and Wales, which is a vital role in ensuring the protection of our environment. The EAC agreed that Dame Glenys has the credentials and impartiality to take on this role and establish an effective regulatory body.”

The Select Committees’ concerns echo those raised by MPs and environmental agencies earlier this year. This October saw the passing of an additional amendment to the Environment Bill, granting powers to Defra’s Secretary of State to issue and revise enforcement guidance to the OEP, a decision criticised by Labour MP Anna McMorrin, who called the body ‘a toothless regulator with fewer powers than the European Commission’.

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