Creating an environmental policy for a public body

The Office for Environmental Protection

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is a public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that protects and improves the environment by holding government and other public authorities to account. It was legally established in November 2021 under the Environment Act 2021. The OEP’s work covers England and Northern Ireland, and they have an office base in Worcester.

As a newly established organisation, the OEP came to Grain for assistance in creating a formal environmental policy and plan that aligned with their mandate to protect the environment. The approach needed to reflect the commitments of other governmental departments while remaining relevant to the operations of the OEP.

First, a materiality assessment explored several environmental, social, and governance topics. These topics formed a basis for interviews with external and internal stakeholders who provided insight and feedback on current priority areas and potential future actions for the organisation. The themes raised included environmental impact and performance, upholding of legislation, and public accessibility.

Further insight and recommendations were provided through a gap analysis that indicated how the OEP could develop its internal approach to sustainability. The recommendations recognised the organisation’s maturity and the great strides made toward environmental responsibility since its creation. The analysis highlighted the best practices of similar organisations like Defra and Daera, and considered government targets such as net zero by 2050. Grain also provided support for best practice position statements on procurement and biodiversity.

Throughout the process, Grain worked collaboratively with a core team at the OEP. This partnership resulted in a sustainability policy and action plan that aligns with the organisation’s overall strategic plan, supports Defra Group’s sustainability actions, and sets out operational targets for the future.

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