Principal Data Analyst/Scientist

Office for Environmental Protection

Apply before 11:55 pm on Monday 24th January 2022


Reference number



£47,549 - £54,728


Grade 7

Contract type


Business area

OEP - Insights

Type of role


Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share, Part-time, Compressed Hours

Number of posts




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 is a non-departmental public body sponsored by Defra. This means it will operate independently from Defra and will not be part of the UK Civil Service.

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 air pollution to biodiversity loss. The Insights Team holds a critical role 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.

Within the Insights Directorate, Data Science has the aim of a “Centre of Excellence” within the OEP. Data Science has a critical cross cutting function servicing in particular the Natural Science and Environment and Climate Analysis teams, by developing cutting edge solutions for integrating a wide range of environmental datasets, forecasting environmental trends, automating analytical processes and quality assurance of the outputs. All of this will be fundamental to the quality and depth of analysis delivered by the directorate in assessing progress made in improving the natural environment in accordance with the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (currently the 25 Year Environment Plan) and targets. 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 Principle Data Scientist/Analyst will be accountable to the head of the Insights Directorate, the senior leadership team and Board of the OEP for the technical infrastructure underpinning the analysis in the OEP’s statutory monitoring report responding to the government’s annual report on the 25 Year Environment Plan and targets. The role will be instrumental in our quality assurance of data and analysis across the directorate, supporting the OEP’s strategic position on providing an integrated/environmental system level assessment of the environment. 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.

The role holder will provide leadership to the data science & model development requirements of the wider team, keeping abreast of current developments in data science, environmental policy, law, technology and relevant social and economic factors, both in the UK and around the world. We are looking for numerate individuals, from a range of backgrounds, who have the enthusiasm and flexibility to help us grow and develop this exciting new organisation. You may have a traditional data science background applied to the natural environment or your may have a natural environment background, and have grown significant competence in data science through your career. If this sounds like you, or 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).

Supporting documents for information:

25 Year Environment Plan - GOV.UK -
25 Year Environment Plan: progress reports -
Outcome indicator framework for the 25 Year Environment Plan

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 the data science and analytical expertise to enable objective monitoring and reporting 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. This will involve identifying priority areas for data gathering, manipulation and modelling.

• Support the development of the OEP’s strategic position on integrated modelling for assessing changes in the environmental system. This may involve developing novel data science solutions; working closely with analysts in the OEP and Defra, ONS, experts elsewhere to influence/develop over time innovative new approaches that will enhance the evidence base.

• Develop new tools and techniques to analyse large structured and unstructured environmental datasets and where appropriate develop models to inform the assessment of the 25 YEP/targets. This will involve proactively identifying opportunities to embed these tools or techniques in projects across the directorate.

• Showcase expertise in the data science community, in particular across the Defra Group, academic institutions and other specialist bodies.

• Working with analysts/colleagues in the wider Insights directorate/OEP to understand how they use data and developing appropriate analytical support and capability, identifying where data sources, tools and data platforms can be put to best use

• Providing support in the use of data science to other teams in OEP to develop and build data acquisition, curation, exploitation and governance and to facilitate access and use.

• Build effective working relationship with Defra’s Digital, Data and Technology Services, as they help deliver many of the new functions upon which OEP analysts will rely.

• Develop interactive tools/data visualisation tools for presenting the OEP’s analysis.

• Develop and maintain a modelling plan and determine the extent of each modelling assignment to match available resources. This may involve ‘light- touch’ modelling or ‘deep dives’ into progress against specific goals.

• Develop deep expertise and knowledge 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.

• Work closely with senior colleagues across the OEP to identify and review and resolve strategically importance environmental issues as they emerge.

• Set and maintain corporate standards for collecting, analysing and reporting scientific data. Use a continuous improvement approach to development across the OEP.

• Line management of other staff (HSO or SCO), ensuring an inclusive team and that people are developed and grown so that they develop their careers while delivering for the OEP. Encourage innovation and capture ideas for development.

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.


• 2.1 degree or a postgraduate qualification in a data science
• Or a highly numerate environmental science or natural science discipline, with significant experience in applying data science.

Essential Experience

• Experience of applying both detailed and broad data science/sophisticated quantitative techniques to solve complex analytical problems in a natural environment context. For example: developing analytical tools for analysing and/or integrating large structured/unstructured datasets, automating processes, and where appropriate developing models.

• Experience of developing compelling analytical insights and making these insights accessible to non-specialists through the development of interactive tools or use of data visualisation software.

• Experience of independently quality assuring large datasets/models/analytical outputs.

• Leadership of large projects that deliver sophisticated but pragmatic and innovative solutions/tools for analytical users.

Essential Skills

• Developing and maintaining data management platforms (e.g. MS Access, Azure).

• Advanced application of statistical techniques (e.g. in MS Excel, SPSS, R Studio).

• Ability to develop modelling simulation platforms to understand potential environmental improvement through forecasting and scenario planning e.g. from machine learning through to traditional multi-variate assessments.

• Demonstrating causal links or otherwise, of environmental change and the drivers or pressures of change, by combining different data-sets and analysing them.
• Advanced programming capability (e.g. in R or Python).

• Advanced spatial analysis (e.g. in QGIS, ArcGIS, FME Desktop).

• Ability to balance conflicting demands and shape work programmes and priorities for the team, even when details are unclear.

• 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 pro-actively develop and manage relationships with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders particularly those that are high profile and at a senior level.


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

  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Leadership
  • Communicating and Influencing


• 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 behaviour statements.

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

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

If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed on experience and behaviours.

A presentation or additional exercise may also be assessed.

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 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 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 :  The OEP Recruitment Team
Email :
Recruitment team :
Email :

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: 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

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