Environmental information

Many of the procedures relating to requests for Environmental Information (EI) are similar or the same as those used for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

You will therefore find details about many aspects of EI requests included in the FOI section.

This section provides additional details specific to Environmental Information.

Environmental Information held by Norfolk County Council can be requested under the Environmental Information Regulations. This is a complementary, but separate piece of legislation to the Freedom of Information Act. Environmental Information is classified as exempt under the FOI Act simply because the EI Regulations should be used to access the information instead. It is the public authority’s duty to determine what type of information is being requested, and therefore which legislation a request falls under.

Definition of Environmental Information

Environmental Information under the Regulations is defined as any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on:

  • The state of the elements of the environment: air, water, soil, the landscape, natural sites, and biological diversity (including genetically modified organisms)
  • Factors affecting, or likely to affect, the environment, such as substances, noise, radiation, emissions, discharges and waste released into the environment
  • Measures such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, agreements, and activities affecting the environment, and related cost-benefit and other economic analyses
  • Reports on the implementation of environmental legislation
  • The state of human health and safety, including contamination of the food chain
  • The state of human health and safety and conditions of human life, so far as they are affected by the elements of the environment and by factors, measures or activities affecting the environment
  • Cultural sites and built structures, so far as they are affected by the elements of the environment and by factors, measures or activities affecting the environment

Exceptions under EIR

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 specify circumstances where a public authority is not obliged to disclose information. These are referred to as “exceptions”. However, any use of an exception is subject to a public interest test.

Norfolk County Council is not obliged to release information if:

  • It constitutes personal data
  • The information is not held when an applicant's request is received
  • The request for information is manifestly unreasonable
  • The request for information is formulated in too general a manner
  • The request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data
  • The request involves the disclosure of internal communications

Environmental Information would also not be disclosed if its release would adversely affect:

  • International relations, defence, national security or public safety;
  • The course of justice, the ability of a person to receive a fair trial or the ability of a public authority to conduct an inquiry of a criminal or disciplinary nature
  • Intellectual property rights
  • The confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority where such confidentiality is provided by law
  • The confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest
  • The interests of the person who provided the information where that person was not under, and could not have been put under, any legal obligation to supply it to that or any other public authority
  • The interests of the person who provided the information where that person did not supply it in circumstances such that that or any other public authority is entitled apart from these Regulations to disclose it
  • The interests of the person who provided the information where that person has not consented to its disclosure
  • The protection of the environment to which the information relates

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