What are the Environmental Information Regulations?
The Environmental Information Regulations concern the public 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 analyses 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, after the regulations were revised in January 2005 to come into line with the Freedom Of Information Act.
- environmental information can be found on this website, and council publications relating to environmental issues can be found through the publication scheme
- inspection of registers and documents by an applicant on council premises is free of charge
- to request access to environmental information you can't find on the website, complete the online application form
Requests for environmental information
Requests for environmental information can be made in various ways, including by letter, email, online form or over the telephone.
If you're unsure whether your request falls under the Environmental Regulations or the Freedom of Information Act, apply for the information you want by your preferred method, and when we acknowledge your request we'll advise you of which legislation we're using to process it.
We have 20 working days to respond to an applicant. This timescale can be extended to 40 days if the request is complex or extremely large.
We can charge a reasonable amount for supplying information. We'll inform you, in writing, when a fee is payable and how much it will be. If the fee isn't paid within 60 days, we'll assume that you no longer want the information.
Environmental Information Regulations contain a presumption in favour of disclosure of environmental information. We'll disclose the relevant information unless there's a strong case under public interest to withhold access to that information. Exceptions include:
- not holding the information
- the request is too large
- the request is too general
- the information required is still in draft
- the information required is confidential internal correspondence
- other exceptions relating to international relations, defence, national security, public safety, judicial or legislative capacity, intellectual property rights or confidentiality
If environmental information contains personal data relating to other people, the personal information will be removed before the information is sent to you.
If the information requested includes your personal data, the request is a subject access request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Reuse of council information
The supply of information doesn't give the public an automatic right to reuse that information. Most environmental information held by us will be covered by copyright under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
We'll provide you with the information unless there's a good reason for not doing so. If we decline your request, we'll let you know why we made this decision. If you don't agree, you can ask us to reconsider our decision, and if the request is still declined you can ask the Information Commissioner's Office to review the decision.
The information commissioner is responsible for overseeing the regulations, but sometimes the European Court of Justice could be involved.
Contact details: Information Commissioner
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 01625 545700 or 08456 306060
If you have any concerns about how we process Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) requests, contact us using the details on this page.