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Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

What are the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)?

People have always been able to obtain certain information on their environment.

The Environmental Information Regulations has now established a more formal access regime, which specifically allows people to request environmental information from public authorities and those bodies carrying out a public function.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 came into force on 1 January 2005, which is the same date that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) came fully into force. The Information Commissioner's Office oversee and enforce compliance with EIR.

If you would like more information please download the Environmental Information Regulations guidance [pdf] or alternatively contact us via Contact Warrington.

Information covered by the EIR

The new regulations have broadened the definition of environmental information. Environmental information now covers:

  • Information about the state of the elements (the elements are air and atmosphere, soil, water, land, landscape, and biological diversity and its components)
  • Information about how those elements work together (or don't work together)
  • Information about factors like substances, activities, products, actions and processes which affect or are likely to affect any of the elements, or their interaction
  • Information about emissions, discharges or releases of any substance into the environment
  • Information about measures or activities which will affect or protect any of the elements or their interaction
  • Any analyses or calculations which are used in making decisions about the environment
  • Information about human health and safety, living conditions, cultural sites or structures, in so far as they are affected by those elements

Making a request under EIR

  • 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 but it may be dealt with more efficiently if you are able to direct requests to the appropriate person or section.
  • If a request is believed to be too general, the applicant will be contacted to determine specifically what information they would like.
  • The timescale for responses is 20 working days (40 working days for complex and voluminous requests).
  • Warrington Borough Council do currently make a charge for environmental information.
  • Inevitably there is information for which there would be adverse consequences should it be released (for example, the nesting location of a rare bird species). To prevent such an event happening, the Regulations contain a number of exceptions which would allow public authorities to withhold that information.  

If you would like more information please contact us via Contact Warrington.

EIR exceptions

The Council may refuse to disclose information in certain exceptional situations (see the exceptions below) and where the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in the information’s disclosure.

The exceptions include; 

  • Information is not held when the request is received
  • Request is manifestly unreasonable
  • Request is too general 
  • Information which is unfinished or in the course of being completed
  • Request involves the disclosure of internal communications
  • Disclosure would affect international relations, defence, national security or public safety
  • Disclosure would affect the course of justice
  • Intellectual property rights
  • The confidentiality of the proceedings of a public authority
  • Commercial or industrial confidentiality
  • The interests of the supplier of the information
  • Protection of the environment
  • Personal Information
If an authority refuses to disclose all/part of the information requested, that authority must state, in writing, what exception the information falls under and justify their decision. The authority will also inform the applicant that they have a right to appeal the decision, initially to the authority itself then, if they remain dissatisfied, to the Information Commissioner’s Office.