See job eligibility requirements: Natural Science Specialist (Ecological Science or Policy)

U.K. Office for Environmental Protection

Worcester, UK 🇬🇧



About the job


The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)

The OEP is a new public body, established with the principal objective of contributing to environmental protection and improving the natural environment. It will support Parliament in holding government to account on its environmental commitments and environmental law.

We do this by:
• Monitoring and reporting on the government’s environmental improvement plans and targets
• Monitoring and reporting on the implementation of environmental law
• Advising government on proposed changes to environmental law, and other matters related to the natural environment
• Investigating suspected serious failures to comply with environmental law by public authorities and enforcing compliance where needed

We also receive complaints from the public about suspect failures to comply with environmental law.

The OEP was legally created in November 2021, under the Environment Act 2021. We expect to be fully established early in 2022 after Parliament takes the steps needed for our functions and powers to be made available to us.

Our work covers England. In the coming months, the Northern Ireland Assembly may also decide that our work will cover Northern Ireland.

The natural environment is important for everyone and we aim for our teams to reflect the diversity of our society. Your personal qualities will be as important as your professional experience and applications are welcomed from all backgrounds.

The OEP will be based at a Worcester location. Worcester is a thriving county town with three mainline stations providing good links to London, Bristol, and Birmingham. Staff will initially be contractually based at Worcestershire County Hall, and then at a new Worcester OEP office location, details of which will be shared with the successful candidates.

Job description

The OEP is the cornerstone of our environmental governance system now we have left the EU. It has will have a unique role in tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time, from climate change to biodiversity loss. The Natural Science team will have an important role within the Insights Team leading the assessment of progress reported by the Government on delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan and supporting the OEP’s enforcement and legal functions. This is an unrivalled opportunity to join the OEP as it is established and help build its Insights function from the ground up, influencing how the OEP will operate in its crucial early years of existence.

The Natural Science and Analysis team is part of the Insights Directorate in the OEP. The team analyses progress made in improving the natural environment in accordance with the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (currently the 25 Year Environment Plan) and targets. The Directorate will also include an Environment and Climate Analysis team, while also incorporating cross-team policy and data-science expertise.

This is a high-profile work area. The OEP’s report is a key mechanism which will hold government to account on its environmental commitments and therefore will attract intense scrutiny and may be disputed by both government and stakeholders.

The role-holder will be accountable to a Natural Science Team Leader, for a specific area of the team’s delivery within the natural science components of a statutory report responding to the government’s annual report on the 25 Year Environment Plan and targets. The flagship 25 Year Environment Plan sets out a blueprint to fulfil its commitment for this to be the first generation to The flagship 25 Year Environment Plan sets out a blueprint to fulfil its commitment for this to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than that in which we inherited. It includes targets in four priority areas – air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency and waste reduction – plus specific targets on particulate matter in air and species abundance.

You will be a proactive self-starter, with excellent analytical abilities in either a data or policy field, able to work collaboratively with stakeholders to build long-lasting relationships and motivated to demonstrate how analysis can improve policy-making to help ensure the OEP delivers its purpose. The natural environment is highly complex and expertise in any of the aspects of the 25 Year Environment Plan and targets are needed. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in several of the goal areas, in particular thriving plants and wildlife, healthy soils, biosecurity and land management.

Individuals, from any background, who have the enthusiasm and flexibility to help us grow and develop as an exciting new organisation, are welcome to apply. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, we would love you to get in touch.

The OEP will be working on a wide variety of issues at any given time and we are looking for people who will be able to work flexibly across multiple work areas, when needed. For example, in addition to your standard duties you may called to support a specific high-profile investigation or piece of thematic analysis and be comfortable working in an environment where priorities and objectives may shift.


The OEP will be based at a Worcester location. Worcester is a thriving county town with three mainline stations providing good links to London, Bristol, and Birmingham.

Staff will initially be contractually based at the Defra office at Worcestershire County Hall, and then at a new Worcester OEP office location, details of which will be shared with the successful candidates. In line with prevailing Government advice staff may be home-based until Covid-19 restrictions are eased, at which point staff will be expected to be based at and regularly attend the Worcester office, although non-contractual home working arrangements for part of the working week may be possible (subject to business agreement and need).

Information Webinars:

As the OEP is a new organisation, we will be hosting a webinar during the application period to provide potential candidates with further information about the OEP and the roles – for more information please visit the event page:


• Provide natural science and/or policy expertise to objectively monitor and report on government’s implementation of its 25 Year Plan & targets, to determine progress to date and advise on ways in which progress could be improved.
• Maintain a section of the team’s monitoring plan and complimentary monitoring assignments. This may include ‘light-touch’ monitoring or ‘deep dives’ into progress against specific 25 YEP goals(for example goal three: “Thriving plants and wildlife”, and topics such as the marine environment, soils and biosecurity).
• Be a strong team player, resilient and adaptable against a complex backdrop, focused on working together to build on each other’s strengths and to flex across activities as needed to achieve our business outcomes.
• Develop deep expertise and knowledge within areas of natural science to complement expertise within the team, so that the OEP is seen as a trusted, credible source of to be able to challenge government reports and influence policy.
• Write compelling narratives and work at pace under guidance to draft high quality scientific and analytical briefings and strategic reports for the Board, ministers, senior management and decision-making committees.
• Work closely and collaboratively with senior colleagues across the OEP to identify and review and resolve strategically importance environmental issues as they emerge. Ensure strategic alignment and work planning between teams as necessary.
• With the Insights Team, set and maintain corporate standards for collecting, analysing and reporting scientific data. Use a continuous improvement approach to development across the OEP.

The above list of job duties is not exclusive or exhaustive and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Essential Experience/Qualifications

• 2.1 degree or a postgraduate qualification in a natural science discipline, or equivalent experience.

Essential Skills

• A good and broad understanding of natural science, with experience of applying this expertise to solve complex policy issues or evaluate the impact of policy implementation. Specific areas of expertise could be drawn from ecology/biodiversity, spatial analysis, SIA/SEA, biosecurity, marine or public engagement with the environment.
• Working collaboratively across teams and with stakeholders to /develop insights in the context of broader environmental policy.
• Experience with one or more of the following: Analysing evidence; synthesis of evidence; evaluating policy efficacy (e.g. The Magenta Book); putting insights into action through developing influential policy recommendations.
• Flexible and adaptable mindset, able to work /direct the team’s work across a wide range of projects and change direction quickly in response to changing demands.
• Ability to deliver high quality analysis and insights on natural science issues at pace, and articulate this in a clear and compelling manner.
• Ability to think and operate strategically, ensuring plans and activities reflect the broader political, economic, legal and social context.
• Ability to pro-actively develop and manage relationships with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders.


We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Changing and Improving
  • Making Effective Decisions


• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• Salary Sacrifice Schemes such as Cycle to Work and Charitable Giving
• Season Ticket and Rental Deposit Loans
• Access to a huge range of retail discounts and offers through an employee discount portal

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours and Experience.Application Process
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV detailing work history;
a 750 word statement of suitability on how they meet the essential experience and skills criteria; and
250 words on each of the four behaviours set out below.

Seeing the Big Picture (Lead Behaviour)
Delivering at Pace
Changing and Improving
Making Effective Decisions

Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead behaviour, Seeing the Big Picture.

Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straight to assessment/interview.

You will be tested on the behaviours at interview.

There will be a written exercise or presentation at interview. Further details of this will be shared with candidates who successfully pass the sift stage.

Reserve List
A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

New entrants are expected to start on the minimum of the pay band.

Reasonable Adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

– Contact Government Recruitment Service via [email protected] as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs.
– Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.

If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the ‘Contact point for applicants’ section.

Criminal Record Check
If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check maybe carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognize in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing [email protected] stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

Childcare Vouchers
Any move to Defra from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at here

We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to Coronavirus, and will be following central Government advice as it is issued. There is therefore a risk that recruitment to this post may be subject to change at short notice. Please continue to follow the application process as normal and ensure that you check your emails regularly for any updates from us as this is how we will communicate with you.

As government restrictions continue to lift, Defra group is exploring future ways of working with flexibility in mind. This means, that subject to business need, successful candidates will be offered the option to combine working at home with working at their contractual Defra group workplace, with occasional travel to other work locations. Further information relevant to this post will be available for candidates invited to interview.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals

Further information on nationality requirements

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles.The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name : [email protected]
Email : [email protected]
Recruitment team :
Email : [email protected]

Further information

Complaints If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email: [email protected] If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission




IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development