On the 1st January 2005 new Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) came into force, giving members of the public the right to access environmental information held by public authorities.
Whilst the Regulations are devoted specifically to environmental information, they have a very close link, and are similar in purpose, to the more general Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.
What is environmental information?
The Environmental information Regulations 2004 covers information that includes:
- The state of elements of the environment, e.g. water, air, land, GMO's, wildlife, etc
- The state of human health and safety, food chains, cultural sites and built structures
- Substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste that may affect the state of the elements of the environment and interaction between them
- Measures, including administrative measures, policies, legislation, plans, programmes and environmental agreement(s), and activities that affect/may affect, or protect, the state of the elements of the environment and their interaction by them
- Emission discharges and other releases into the environment
- Cost benefit and other economic analysis used in environmental decision-making.
How can I make a request?
It is preferable for your request to be sent in by e-mail or letter so we can make sure we are sending you the correct information you have requested. But you can also make your request by telephone or in person.
Complete the online submission using this form or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. An automated acknowledgement will be generated to confirm our safe receipt. To send via post, please use the Council’s main Rochford offices address, marked for the attention of the Information Co-ordinator.
Whilst Environmental Information requests should be dealt within 20 working days (the same as for FOI requests), up to 40 working days are allowed if the request is complex or the volume of information is high.
All exemptions under the Regulations are subject to a public interest test and, where applied, this will be explained within our formal reply issued.
A request for recorded information will be treated as a request under the Environmental Information Regs 2004, other than:
- Information given out as part of routine business, for example, standard responses to general enquiries;
- Contaminated land information regarding land purchase; there is a separate process followed for this type of detailed data (please see Related Content for more details and the correct application form)
- A request for non-environmental recorded information which falls under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; or
- The requester’s own personal data (this is dealt with under the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 & GDPR 2018 (please see our Data Protection web page).
Sometimes it may be necessary to consider a request under more than one access regime.
Please refer to the ‘How Requests for Information Will be Dealt With’ under the Related Content section for more details.
Re-Use of Data
Some of the information we give you may be covered by our copyright, third party copyright and/or contain other restrictions that permit re-use. Unless otherwise stated, you are able to re-use information under the terms of the Open Government Licence for public sector information, subject to conditions (link shown under the Related Content section on this page).
Internal Review Process
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your request or if you are not happy with the way your request has been handled, you can make a complaint in writing to the Assistant Director – Legal & Democratic, who will then conduct an internal review; email: Angela.email@example.com or post: Rochford District Council Offices, South Street, Rochford Essex SS4 1BW.
We aim to handle all reviews within 20 working days from the date the complaint is received, but there may be occasions, depending on the circumstances, when it will take longer. There is no statutory deadline for undertaking internal reviews pursuant to the Environmental Information Regs 2004, although the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued guidance saying that internal reviews should take no longer than 20 working days.
Should you remain dissatisfied thereafter with the decision reached then you are within your rights to appeal to the ICO.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the Environmental Information Regs rests with the Information Commissioner, who is the independent public official, responsible directly to Parliament. As well as promoting compliance with the Information Regs, the Commissioner has powers of enforcement. The ICO’s website can be found in the Related Content section.
If you are buying or selling a property and want Environmental information about potentially contaminated land, there is a separate process to follow at the Council for this service and fee attached for the detailed piece of work required. Please see Buying and Selling a Property – ‘Environmental Information Contaminated Land’ in Related Content.