The Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) 2004 are based on Directive 2003/4/EEC. They give the public access rights to environmental information held by a public authority in response to requests.
The Regulations came into force on 1 January 2005 along with the Freedom of Information Act and cover any information that is considered to be ‘environmental information’ within the terms of the Regulations.
The Regulations promote the release of as much environmental information as possible to enable increased public participation in environmental decision making. In the main the Authority will use the Enviromental Information Regulations to respond to most information requests.
1. Definition of Environmental Information
Environmental Information is defined as any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on:
(i) the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements;
(ii) factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment referred to in (a);
(iii) measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to in (a) and (b) as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements;
reports on the implementation of environmental legislation;
(iv) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in (c); and
(v) the state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain, where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment referred to in (a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in (b) and (c).
2. Why do the Environmental Information Regulations have to be different from Freedom of Information Act?
There have been Environmental Information Regulations in the UK since 1992. They are based on European Legislation.In 1998 the UK was a signatory to an international convention, the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
Because of the principles laid down in the Aarhus Convention, the European Union introduced a new Directive on public access to environmental information (2003/4/EC). As with all member states the UK had to update its Environmental Information Regulations in line with this Directive.
In contrast, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is domestic law and was drawn up in accordance with the wishes of Parliament. Both the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into effect on 1 January 2005.
3. Making a Environmental Information Regulation request
You will be able to ask for assistance if you have any difficulty in formulating or making an application by contacting the Authority directly. We will help you as much as possible but we are not required to look for the information you request unless we have:
· a clear and understandable request with enough detail to locate the information;
· your name and address so we can respond to your request; and
· an indication about the form in which you want the information.
This will ensure that your application is dealt with as quickly as possible. You should give as much detail as you can in order to assist us in locating the information that you require.
Some documents may include exempt information so you will only get the information which is not exempt. You only have a right to information and not necessarily to documents. Some documents may include exempt information so you will only get the information from them which is not exempt.
4. Fees charged for information
Any fee charged will be in accordance with the Authority’s Charging for Information Policy and calculated by looking at the costs directly and reasonably incurred locating the information you have asked for and giving it to you. You will then be sent a ‘fees notice’ which you will have to pay within three months of your request – you will not receive information until you have paid the costs in the fees notice.
If the estimated cost of providing the information would be above the appropriate limit set by the government then we will not be under a duty to provide the information. However, the Authority will inform you if the limit will be exceeded and we will try to let you know what can be provided within the limit. Despite not being obliged to provide information which exceeds the limit, the Authority will still be under a duty to advise and assist.
5. Multiple applications for information
In order to protect the Authority there will be rules which govern multiple applications for information which are clearly trying to avoid the financial limits set by the government. However, we will try to help you as much as possible to get the information you want.
Contact details: Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority, 7th Floor, No.1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP. Tel: 0151 255 1444, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about Environmental Information Regulations:
Information Commisioners Office (this website will open in a new window)