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Environmental Information

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) give you the right to access environmental information from public authorities.

Can I make a request for environmental information?

Yes. The right is not restricted; any person in the world can request environmental information (this includes organisations as well as individuals).

Who can I request environmental information from?

Requests can be made to public sector organisations and non-public bodies carrying out a public function.

How can I make a request?

Requests for environmental information can be made verbally or in writing (hard copy or electronic). A request can be made to any employee of a public authority. If you are able to direct requests to the appropriate person or section, it is likely that the request will be dealt with more efficiently.

If a verbal request is made we recommend that you note who you spoke to, the date, and what information you requested. You may wish to follow up a verbal request with a letter or e-mail confirming the terms of your request. A written record of your verbal request would be beneficial should it result in a complaint to the Information Commissioner. This will assist the Commissioner in determining whether an authority has complied with the EIR.

What happens after I have made a request?

Regardless of whether the request itself was made verbally or in writing, public authorities must respond in writing.

We have a responsibility to provide you with ‘advice and assistance’. For example if a request is too general, the Corporation may contact you to try to determine what information is required.

Although authorities have a responsibility to assist you, they have no right to ask why you want the information. However if you volunteer that information, it may help the public authority provide the most appropriate information. Even if the authority does know the purpose of your request, they will not able to take this into consideration when determining what information can be disclosed.

How long do you have to respond to my request?

We must respond as soon as possible and at the latest within 20 working days. Except in circumstances where the information requested is particularly complex. In such cases the time limit can be extended by a further 20 working days. If the time limit is extended, the Corporation must notify you of this delay within 20 working days of your initial request, and state when we believe we will be able to respond in full.

Do I have to pay for the information?

A public authority cannot make a charge for allowing you:

  • access to any public registers or lists of environmental information, or;
  • to look at the information (at a place chosen by the public authority).

For all other situations charging is at our discretion, but any charge must be reasonable.

Do you only have a duty to disclose information which it produced?

No. Under the EIR, any environmental information we hold can potentially be disclosed if requested. It is not important whether we produced the information, or whether we own it.

Is there any reason why I should not receive all the information I requested?

You will not receive the information requested if the authority you sent the request to does not hold it.

There are also certain restrictions on the right to access environmental information. These restrictions apply to certain categories of information (for example national security information). However, even if the information falls within one of the categories, if it is in the public interest for the information to be disclosed, it will be.

If we determine that the information cannot be released because it falls within one of these categories (and there is a stronger public interest in withholding the information than releasing it), we must inform you of this and explain our decision (including the reasons why it is in the public interest to withhold the information).

What happens if you do not hold part or all of the information I requested?

When a request for information is received, the first task is to determine whether we hold the information.

If the Corporation does not hold any of the information requested, but believes that another public authority does hold it, we must either:

  • transfer the request to another authority which we are confident holds the information (as a matter of good practice, an authority should always ask for your consent prior to transferring your request), and send you a refusal notice stating that we do not hold the information, or;
  • send you a refusal notice stating we do not hold the information requested and details of the authority we believe hold the information, or;
  • if we do not know who may hold the information requested, we will simply send you a refusal notice stating that we do not hold the information.

If the Corporation only holds part of the information, we must provide the information we do hold, and either:

  • transfer the request to another authority which we are confident holds the remainder of the information, and send you a refusal notice stating which information we do not hold, or;
  • send you a refusal notice stating which information we do not hold, and if we know which authority holds the remainder of the information, details of that authority, or;
  • If the Corporation does not know who may hold the remainder information, we will simply send you a refusal notice stating which information we do not hold.

If you refuse my request or I am dissatisfied with the way in which it has dealt with it, how should I proceed?


If you are dissatisfied with our response, you may ask for your request to be reviewed internally by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation. A request for a review may be sent to the Chief Information Officer at:

Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation
Gateway House
Stonehouse Lane
Purfleet
Essex
RM19 1NX
 
If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner for a decision on the handling of your request. The Information Commissioner is an independent statutory body which holds up the operation of the Act and can be contacted at the following address:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

The information you should include when applying to the Information Commissioner to review a public authority’s handling of your request is:

  • a covering letter explaining what you would like the Commissioner to assess;
  • a copy of the initial request, if a verbal request was made, any details of the request which you recorded;
  • a copy of the Corporation’s initial response;
  • a copy of the complaint you made to the Corporation’s internal review/complaints procedure and;
  • your own contact details to ensure we can quickly obtain any further information which is necessary.

Although you can apply to the Commissioner to review our handling of your request without including the above information, within your initial application the Commissioner will be able to deal with your case more quickly and efficiently if you include it from the start.