Environmental Information Regulations 2004
Environment Information Regulations 2004
EIRs are about the right of access to environmental information.
Environmental Information is defined as:
- State of the elements of the environment, such as air, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites, flora and fauna and interaction between these elements.
- State of human health and safety, conditions of human life, the food chain, cultural sites and built structures, in as much as they are, or may be, affected by the state of the elements of the environment.
- Substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste affecting or likely to affect the state of the environment.
- Policies, strategies and plans relating to the state of the elements and the interaction between them.
- Emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment.
- Cost benefit and other economic analysis and assumptions used within the framework of environmental measures and activities.
Access to Environmental Information
The public has been able to access environmental information for over a decade. The advent of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 1 January 2005 has allowed Government to streamline EIR and FOI on public access to environmental information.
The Council will disseminate environmental information on its website and will make full use of its FOI publication scheme to alert the public as to the existence of environmental information within the Council.
Inspection of registers and documents by the applicant on Council premises are free of charge.
Requests for Environmental Information
Requests for Environmental information can be made in writing, by email, orally over the telephone, during a meeting etc.
The Council has 20 working days to respond to the applicant. This timescale can be extended to 40 days if there needs to be a public interest test or if the request is complex or voluminous.
The Council can charge a reasonable amount for supplying information. Richmondshire District Council will inform you, in writing, as to the fees payable. The 20 working days for a response doesn't start until the fee is paid. If the fee is not paid within 60 days, we can assume that you no longer want the information.
EIR contains a presumption in favour of disclosure of environmental information. The Council will disclose the relevant information unless there is a strong case under public interest to withhold access to that information.
Occasions when the Council can refuse to disclose information include:
- Not holding the information
- The request is manifestly unreasonable
- The request is formulated in too general a manner
- The information required is still in draft
- The information required is confidential internal correspondence
Other exceptions relate to international relations, defence, national security or public safety, judicial or legislative capacity, intellectual property rights and confidentiality.
If environmental information contains personal data relating to other people, the personal information will be removed (redacted) before the information is sent to you.
If the information requested includes your personal data, the request will be treated as a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Re-use of Council Information
The supply of information does not give the public an automatic right to re-use that information. Most environmental information held by the Council will be covered by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
If you are not happy with the response you receive to a request, you can complain to the Council under the Complaints Procedure.
You also have the right of appeal to the information commissioner.
The Information Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the Regulations, but sometimes the European Court of Justice could be involved.
- The definition of environmental information is broad.
- Any verbal or written request for environmental information is an EIR request.
- All requests must be dealt with within 20 working days
- All the exceptions are subject to the public interest test.
Information Commissioner's Office
Tel: 01625 545700
Fax: 01625 524510
or Tel: 01748 829100