Line to take - LTT106 - Summaries of information under the EIR
- FOI/EIR: EIR
- Section/Regulation: reg 6, reg 9, reg 16
- Issue: Summaries of information under the EIR
- Source: SW
- Details: n/a
- Related Lines to Take: LTT91, LTT103
- Related Documents: Defra detailed guidance chapter 6, EC Directive 2003/4/EC, EIR Code of Practice, Aarhus Implementation Guide
- Contact: LB
- Date: 18/06/2008
- Policy Reference: LTT106
Line to take
Unlike s11 FOIA, regulation 6 EIR does not explicitly state that public authorities are required to provide a summary or digest of information upon request. However, paragraph 23 of the Code of Practice issued under regulation 16 EIR states that where a summary is requested it “should generally be provided so long as it is reasonably practicable to do so”. Paragraph 23 falls under the ‘advice and assistance’ section of the Code of Practice and therefore failure to provide a summary of information where it would be reasonably practicable to do so would constitute a breach of regulation 9.
Regulation 6(1) provides —
- “Where an applicant requests that the information be made available in a particular form or format, a public authority shall make it so available, unless —
- (a) it is reasonable for it to make the information available in another form or format; or (b) the information is already publicly available and easily accessible to the applicant in another form or format.”
Paragraph 23 of the Code of Practice issued under regulation 16 provides —
- “Although there is no specific reference in the Regulations to the provision of information in the form of a summary or digest, a request for environmental information may include a request for information to be provided in the form of a digest or summary. This should generally be provided so long as it is reasonably practical to do so, taking into account the cost.”
Defra’s detailed guidance supports this view and states, at paragraph 6.15, that “although there is no specific reference in the EIR to the provision of information in the form of a summary or digest, a request for environmental information may include a request for information to be provided in the form of a digest or summary”.
The Aarhus Convention states that public authorities shall make available “copies of the actual documentation containing or comprising such information”, unless it is reasonable to make the information available in another form, or the information is already publicly available in another form. The Aarhus Implementation guide refers to a “functional equivalent”. The ICO considers that the phrase ‘another form’ indicates that the information made available should be the same information as that requested (for example, a hard copy of a letter or an electronic copy of the same letter) unless the applicant requests the information to be provided in summary form. Therefore, whilst a public authority may discharge its duties under the EIR by providing a summary of information if requested, it may not provide a summary of information in response to a request if not asked to do so.