What is Freedom of Information?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to the Council, as it does to all other public authorities. With effect from 1 January 2005 any person who makes a request for information to the Council must be informed whether the Council holds the information and must be supplied with the information subject to the exemptions set out below.
A request for environmental information held by/on behalf of a public authority is technically a Freedom of Information Act 2000 request in the first instance.
However, s. 39(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides that information is exempt information if the public authority holding it "(a) is obliged by regulations under section 74 to make the information available to the public in accordance with the regulations, or (b) would be so obliged but for any exemption contained in the regulations". Those regulations are, of course, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
the definition of environmental information to include areas such as radiation, air, water, soil and land, biological diversity, conditions of human life, the state of human health and safety and waste.
It also places an obligation on the Council to progressively make the information available by electronic means which are easily accessible, such as electronic Public Registers. Other requirements within these Regulations reflect the provisions of the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.
What information am I entitled to?
At present anyone is entitled to a copy of the information set out in the Scheme (subject to exemptions).
Exemptions in the Act can be absolute or qualified. Absolute exemption means that the exempt information will not normally be made available to you at all. Qualified exemption means that the information will be made available to you, unless the public interest in not disclosing it outweighs the public interest in disclosure. This means that the Council will have to consider and decide whether the public interest is greater.
Some of the absolute exemption include information:
which is accessible by other means (including information included in the Scheme)
which relates to national security
which is or relates to court records
which is personal data protected under the Data Protection Act
which is prohibited from disclosure by law
Qualified exemptions include information:
which relates to investigations and proceedings
which relates to law enforcement
which relates to health and safety
which is commercially confidential
How much will it cost the make a request ?
Information will be supplied free of charge. However, sometimes you may have to pay a fee, either to cover production costs (photocopying, postage etc) that exceed £10 or the expense involved in finding and supplying the information if it exceeds £450 based on government guidelines of £25/hour.
You will be told in advance if a fee will apply and be asked to confirm that you want to continue with the request.
If you wish to make a request for information, please complete the online form below. Please consult the Publication Scheme before completing this request as the information you are seeking may be available to you already.
What is a Publication Scheme?
A publication scheme commits us to make information readily available. The Information Commissioner has prepared and approved a Model Publication Scheme, to be adopted by all public authorities by 1 January 2009. The scheme commits the Council to:
Proactively publish information that is covered by the definitions set out in the model publication scheme which is held by the Council
Proactively publish information in line with the statements contained within the scheme
Maintain and review the information covered by the scheme on a regular basis
Producing a guide to the information contained within each class (our website).
The Council's website is the guide to information that the Council publishes or intends to publish in the future, whether on paper, over the internet or by any other means.