Post-Brexit environment watchdog names first chief exec

Appointment announced as location for Office for Environmental Protection revealed
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Natalie Prosser, the general counsel at the gambling commission who previously led a farm regulation review, has been appointed interim chief executive of the UK’s new environmental watchdog.

Prosser will take up her new role at the Office for Environmental Protection in February. She will focus on setting up the body until December, at which point a permanent chief exec will be appointed.

The appointment follows an announcement this week that the statutory body will be based in Worcester, which environment minister Rebecca Pow said was “part of the government's commitment to ensuring that opportunities are spread fairly across the country”.

And it comes the same week as the government delayed the environment bill, which will shake up regulation and establish the OEP in law as an independent statutory body. The bill is expected to pass into law this autumn, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Prosser was policy lead for the Farm Inspection and Regulation Review, an independent exercise commissioned by the government in 2018 that called for a new independent regulator.

Her new role will see her once again working alongside Dame Glenys Stacey, the former HM inspector of probation and Ofqual chief executive, who chaired the farm regulation review. Stacey was announced as the OEP’s chair last month.

Stacey said Prosser brings an “in-depth understanding of public law, regulation and enforcement” to the role.

“Her experience in shaping and developing organisations independent of government and with oversight functions will be invaluable,” she added.

Prosser said the post-Brexit watchdog, which was set up to take on environmental regulations previously overseen by EU bodies, has “such an important job to do, with the clear ambition to set the benchmark for excellence in environmental regulation”.

“We must take on that challenge in a focused and dedicated way and we must establish ourselves so that we can make the wise and well informed decisions that will enable us to make best use of our powers and our voice in order to protect and improve our environment,” she said.

“I am so delighted to be able to play my part in establishing the OEP as the world leading environmental regulator that it needs to be.”

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