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Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat

The transition team for the Office for Environmental Protection

From 1 January 2021, the Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat (IEGS) will help uphold environmental governance standards until the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) begins its work.

The OEP was expected to start operating in July 2021. This has now been delayed as the Government has confirmed the Environment Bill will be carried over to the next parliamentary session.

The OEP is being established under the Environment Bill with a remit to cover England and UK-wide reserved matters. The Bill provides for the OEP to also cover Northern Ireland, subject to the approval of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The IEGS’s handling of complaints will therefore operate in Northern Ireland, to avoid any gap in coverage should the Assembly agree to this extension of the OEP's' remit.

The IEGS will continue to receive and assess complaints from members of the public about failures by public bodies to comply with environmental law. The IEGS will also undertake preparatory work to ensure that the OEP can swiftly produce its report on the 25 Year Environment Plan. This will help to ensure The Office for Environmental Protection will be operational as soon as possible after the Bill is given Royal Assent. For more details about the delay to the Bill please see here

The IEGS team is based in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Functions

The IEGS will perform a number of functions:

  • Supporting the OEP Chair-designate, once they are confirmed following a regulated Public Appointments process.
  • Assessing complaints about alleged failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law. This will also apply to Northern Ireland.
    • The IEGS will check complaints to determine if they will fall within the remit of possible investigation by the OEP.
    • The IEGS does not have an investigative or enforcement role and will pass the complaints on to the OEP, once it is established.
    • The OEP will decide which complaints to consider further. They will need to determine whether cases are serious before commencing any formal investigation.
  • Providing for continuity and handover of technical work previously undertaken by the Natural Capital Committee. In particular, the IEGS will monitor progress towards the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. As there is currently no equivalent Environmental Improvement Plan in Northern Ireland, this function of the IEGS does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Submit a complaint

From 1 January 2021 the IEGS will receive complaints about alleged failures by public authorities to comply with environmental law.

If you would like to make a complaint about a breach of environmental law by a public authority, please complete the online complaint form.

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Submit a complaint

Guidance

You should first have contacted the public authority you are complaining about and completed their complaints process before submitting your complaint to the IEGS.

The OEP will not be able to consider a complaint unless the internal complaints process of the public authority has been finished. This is so that complaints are addressed as far as possible through public authorities’ own procedures, with the OEP only being able to act where these have been completed without resolution.

You can also submit a complaint by asking us to send you the complaint form. Once you have filled it out, please send it back to us by email or post.

Contact Details

England

Email: IEGSEnquiries@defra.gov.uk

Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat (IEGS)
Defra
Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Telephone: 03300 416 581

Northern Ireland

Email: IEGSEnquiries@daera-ni.gov.uk

Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat
c/o Environment Bill Team,
Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs
Environmental Policy Division
2nd Floor Klondyke Building
Cromac Avenue
Gasworks Business Park
Belfast
BT7 2JA

Telephone: As above 03300 416 581 – Details of calls in relation to Northern Ireland issues will be forwarded to staff in Northern Ireland.

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