Environmental Information Regulations 2004
The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) is a UK Statutory Instrument (SI 2004 No. 3391) that provides a right of access to environmental information held by public authorities in England and Wales. The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 apply in Scotland. The regulations came into force on 1st January 2005 .
The regulations extend to non-governmental bodies such as water companies.
Definition of 'Environmental Information'
Environmental information includes information about air, water, soil, land, flora and fauna, energy, noise, waste and emissions. Environmental Information also includes information about decisions, policies and activities that affect the environment.
It is accepted by the UK Government that most maps will contain environmental information.
The coverage of the Environmental Information Regulations is greater than that of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, although there are bodies such as the BBC which are covered by the Freedom of Information Act but not by the EIR. The Freedom of Information Act sets out a list of the bodies and classes of bodies that are public authorities, the EIR is less prescriptive.
MI5 acknowledge that they are covered by the EIR and have published Environmental Information on their website.
- EIR 12(3) - personal data
- EIR 12(4)(a) - not held
- EIR 12(4)(b) - manifestly unreasonable
- EIR 12(4)(c) - request formulated in too general a manner
- EIR 12(4)(d) - unfinished/incomplete data
- EIR 12(4)(e) - internal communications
- EIR 12(5)(a) - international relations, defence, national security or public safety
- EIR 12(5)(c) - intellectual property rights
- EIR 12(5)(d) - the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority
- EIR 12(5)(e)- the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information
- EIR 12(5)(f) - harms the interests of the person who provided the information voluntarily
- EIR 12(5)(g) - protection of the environment
Excluding the personal data exception, all of the other exceptions can only be used to withhold information if it is in the public interest to withhold the information. There can be cases where is uncertainty about whether or not withholding information is in the public interest but the Regulations require a public authority to apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.
- text of regulations from Statutelaw database
- Access to information, from the Ofwat website
- Guide to the Environmental Information Regulations from Direct.gov
- Guidance on the EIR from Defra