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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50229639
  • Date: 26 November 2009
  • Public Authority: Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Summary: Following the conclusion of a public inquiry concerning the proposed Port of Exeter Harbour Revision Order, the complainant asked to be provided with a copy of the Inspector’s report before the Secretary of State for Transport makes his decision about whether or not to approve it. The Planning Inspectorate initially dealt with the request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”) and refused to provide the requested information relying on section 22 (Information intended for future publication). The Commissioner intervened and advised the public authority that in his view the information constituted environmental information covered by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (‘the EIR’). Subsequent to the Commissioner’s intervention the Planning Inspectorate claimed that the information was excepted from the right of access by virtue of Regulations 12(4)(d) and (e) (Information still in the course of completion and Internal communications respectively). The Commissioner has determined that some of the information within the report is the complainant’s personal data. Regulation 5(1) does not provide a right of access to that information. The Commissioner has concluded that in respect of the remainder of the requested information the Planning Inspectorate was correct to rely on regulation 12(4)(d) and that the public interest arguments favouring the maintenance of the exception outweigh those in favour of disclosure. As the Commissioner concluded that all of the remaining information was excepted by virtue of Regulation 12(4)(d) he has not gone on to consider the exception in 12(4)(e). The Commissioner has also decided that the Planning Inspectorate breached Regulations 14(2) and 14(3)(a) and (b) in failing to issue a refusal notice citing Regulations 12(4)(d) and (e) together with its public interest considerations, within 20 working days of the complainant’s request. The Commissioner has not ordered any remedial steps.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]