You can make a request to see or to have copies of any records which we hold. Access to information is principally governed by 2 main legislative provisions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). They both provide rights of access to information publicly held with some exemptions/exceptions. All requests for information will be treated initially as Freedom of Information requests. However section 39 of the FOIA exempts environmental information from being dealt with under the Act and provides that it should be dealt with under EIR. Environmental information includes:
The state of the elements of the environment: Such as air, water, soil, animals and humans.
Emissions and discharges: Such as noise, energy, waste, radiation.
Measures and activities aﬀecting or likely to aﬀect the state of the elements of the environment: Such as policies, plans, agreements.
Reports, cost-benefit and economic analysis.
The state of human health and safety: Such as food hygiene.
Cultural sites and built structures (to the extent they may be aﬀected by the state of the elements of the environment).
There are two categories of exempt information under the FOI Act: Non-absolute exemptions and absolute exemptions. Where we are claiming an exemption under the Act, we will inform you of the specific exemption which we are claiming and why it applies, within 20 working days.
If the information requested is covered by an Absolute exemption, eg information accessible to the applicant by other means, we do not have to consider disclosing it in the public interest, nor do we have to state whether or not we hold the information in question.
If the information requested is covered by a Non-absolute exemption, eg commercial interests, we have to consider the public interest in confirming or denying that the information exists and in disclosing information. We may disclose information, even where an exemption applies, if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in maintaining the exemption.
EIR requests are processed in the same way as FOI requests but information may be covered by a number of exceptions rather than the exemptions under the FOI Act.