Worcester will benefit from 50 new highly skilled, well paid jobs following a government announcement today. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told local MP Robin Walker they would be locating their new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) in his constituency.

The watchdog will be responsible for holding the government to account on environmental law, report on the progress of government Environmental Impact Plans, and investigate complaints on alleged breaches of environmental law by public authorities. It will therefore be recruiting scientists, lawyers and environmental experts.

The OEP is being set up as part of the Conservative Party’s commitment to make the UK a world leader in environmental standards following the country’s departure from the European Union. It is a key part of the Environment Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament. The bill states that the OEP must act objectively and impartially.

Although an exact site is yet to be found for the office, DEFRA Minister Rebecca Pow said Worcester had been selected in a competitive process as it provided the department a high quality location.

Robin Walker has welcomed the announcement which is part of wider Government plans to deliver levelling up across the country by ensuring that key public sector jobs are located outside London and the South East. Worcester has a history of hosting DEFRA or MAFF officials and a former campus near Spetchley road has recently been converted into housing but the decision to locate the new Environmental Protection Agency in the city is a major vote of confidence in its central location and highly skilled workforce.

Announcing the decision Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said

“For such an important new body with a crucial role in holding Governments to account for their environmental performance we wanted a high quality location and I am delighted that after a competitive process, Worcester has been chosen as that location.”

Robin said: “DEFRA were looking for a high quality location for their new office and locations don’t come any higher quality than Worcester. We are well connected, central and it’s a great place to live and work. Winning this competitive process is a real vote of confidence in Worcester by the Government.”

“The OEP will be an important part of ensuring the UK has the highest possible environmental standards. They will employ experts in environmental law, scientists and policy analysts as well as people with experience in regulation and enforcement. I understand that the office will be set up between now and Christmas and will seek to employ around 50 highly qualified people – a significant long term boost to our local economy.”

“I am delighted to see this announcement and proud as the son of the UK’s first Environment secretary that our city is keeping up its place as a centre for environmental expertise. I will now liaise with my colleagues at Worcester City Council to ensure that an office is picked which brings the most benefits to Worcester residents.”