Environmental Information Regulations

The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) are similar to the Freedom of Information Act but are limited specifically to information regarding the environment. The EIR grant a right for any person to request access to environmental information held by public authorities and for public authorities to take steps to proactively make environmental information available to the public. The EIR interpret 'environmental information' widely, with the scope to include information such as health and safety policies or details about recycling.

General Information on the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

The EIR reflect the same general powers given to the Information Commissioner as those identified in the Freedom of Information Act, to promote access to information and to enforce certain elements of the Regulations.

This page summarises general obligations which apply to the House of Commons and the House of Lords as public authorities under the EIR. Greater detail can be found on the Information Commissioner€™s website www.ico.gov.uk Specific information for each House can be found through the links on the left hand side of this page.

Requests for information

Any individual is entitled to ask a public authority for access to environmental information that it holds. Requests for access may be made verbally or in writing. A response will usually be given within twenty working days. This timescale may be extended to forty working days for particularly complex or voluminous requests, although the requester will be informed of this fact within twenty working days.

The response will either:

  • Disclose the requested information. €
  • If the information is not held, state this fact; or €
  • If the information is exempt from disclosure under one of the exceptions identified in the EIR, state this fact and, where relevant, indicate that the public interest in withholding the requested information outweighs the public interest in disclosure and that the information cannot therefore be disclosed.

The process for requesting access to information from each House of Parliament can be found through the links on the left hand side of this page.


Exceptions

The Regulations allow public authorities to withhold information if it falls within certain categories. An absolute exception may apply where the requested information is the personal data of someone other than the subject of that data. In all other cases, the public authority must consider whether the public interest in applying the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the requested information.

This may apply when:

  • The request is manifestly unreasonable.
  • The request is for incomplete data. €
  • Disclosure would adversely affect international relations, defence, national security or public safety. €
  • Disclosure would adversely affect intellectual property rights. €
  • Disclosure would adversely affect the protection of the environment to which it relates The Regulations do not apply to either House of Parliament where doing so would constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege.

Further details on the exceptions and how they apply can be found on the Information Commissioner's website www.ico.gov.uk

Complaints and appeals

You are entitled to complain to us if you are not happy with the response to your request. Your complaint will be reviewed internally, according to the procedure of the House who handled your request. If you are not happy with the internal review of your request, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office www.ico.gov.uk

Related information

Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner's Office is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. Further information about relevant laws is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

 

Relevant legislation

The official, revised edition of relevant legislation can be found in the UK Statute Law Database through the following links             

Records Management