Customer Service Manual - Part 13 : Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

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Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) came into force on 1st January 2005. These regulations are the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, for which The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are responsible and replace the Environmental Information Regulations 1992 (SI 3240). 

From 1st January 2005, any request for information held by/on behalf of a public authority or a body carrying out a public function is technically a Freedom of Information request in the first instance.  Section 39 of the FOI Act 2000 then exempts environmental information from being dealt with under the FOI Act and provides it should be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

What is Environmental Information?

The definition of 'environmental information' is wide and covers elements of the environment, such as land, water, biological organisms etc., but also measures and activities which may affect these, including economic analysis of such measures and activities.

If it is determined that part/all of the information requested is personal information, where the applicant is the subject of the information, access to that information will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act 1998.

In effect the three pieces of legislation work together, the Environmental Information Regulations enabling access to environmental information, the Data Protection Act 1998 enabling access to personal information of which the applicant is the subject, and the Freedom of Information Act enabling access to all other information.

Who has a right of access?

Under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the public has a right of access to environmental information held by public authorities and certain other bodies. Requests for information can only be refused in certain limited circumstances and the basic presumption is that information will be released unless there are compelling and substantive reasons to withhold it.

Making information about the environment publicly available is essential for achieving sustainable development. By providing access to environmental information, the public is able to take decisions in full knowledge of the likely environmental implications and to participate more effectively in decision-making processes that affect the environment. Openness also promotes transparent decision-making and greater public accountability of how authorities undertake their duties and responsibilities.

It is worth noting that a request for information under EIR cannot be refused on cost grounds alone for information on fees guidance take a look at Defra’s Website.

What to do with a request

Requests for information do not need to be in writing, nor do they need to quote the regulations. However, it usually helps to clarify the nature of the information requested if it is put in writing.

If you received a verbal or written request for environmental information please record it on the Customer Contact Record (CCR) and consult with your Customer Service Manager before replying, as the information may be held in a number of different places (Business Steams), for example not only the Council Tax and Rating records but also District Valuer Services and Mineral Valuers etc."

If you, or the Customer Service Manager do not consider the information should be released without seeking further advice you can contact Human Resources, Business Services Team if the enquiry is about our Accommodation or our Sustainable Development / Green Environmental Issues.

Alternatively you can contact the Customer Service Team at CEO

Remember we have to reply within 20 days.

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