The newly formed Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has received £631,000 from DAERA to cover costs of NI-related work during the current financial year.

In its first corporate report, the OEP states the level of funding that it will get from DAERA could change from year to year. “We apply annually to DAERA for the resources to deliver our NI functions,” the report reads.

The document states there is also scope for OEP to apply for “additional resources” within each financial year “should circumstances change”.

The OEP was established in November 2021 to scrutinise public authorities in England on environmental issues, similar to the role that the European Commission had prior to Brexit.

Following a vote in the Assembly at Stormont, the OEP’s powers were extended to cover NI from February 2022 onwards.

The OEP received £8.5m from Defra during 2022/23. It has 72 full-time staff at present, although this is projected to fall to around 50 staff in future years.