The Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) give certain rights of access to environmental information to the general public.
The UK has had Environmental Information Regulations since 1992. The new Environmental Information Regulations 2004 came into force on 1st January 2005.
This is similar legislation to Freedom of Information and follows similar general procedures for responding. A request for information can be either a FOI or an EIR depending on the type of information you are requesting.
The Regulation states that Public authorities have to handle requests for information which relate to the environment, such as land development, pollution levels, energy production and waste management under the Environmental Information Regulations procedures. Reasons for withholding information, and the process, differ slightly between FOI and EIR requests.
Usually, it will be obvious when requested information is environmental – for example, information about land development, pollution levels, energy production and waste management.
However, some information might not seem obviously environmental but could still fall under the definition. For this reason it is important to refer to the full definition of environmental information provided at Regulation 2(1) before making a final decision on whether information is environmental or not and which legislation applies.
For further details, please see ICO’s guidance on what is environmental information.
Any person or organisation may apply. Access is not confined to UK citizens and permanent residents; foreign nationals may also apply.
FOI requests must be made in writing; however EIR requests can be made in writing, by telephone, or in person.
When making a request for the information please ensure that you;
• State your name
• State the address you would like any correspondence sent to
• State clearly what information is required
• Ensure that you are very clear and specific otherwise you may be asked to clarify which will result in a delay in receiving the information.
• State how you would prefer to receive this information
Any requests should be sent through to:
Information Compliance Officer
Corporate Legal Team
Southampton City Council
Telephone: (023) 8083 2676
Fax: (023) 8083 2308
Information can already be available to you via our publication scheme, which can be found here.
So before you log a request please check our disclosure log as this information may immediately be available to you. Our disclosure log can be found here.
All EIR requests should be responded to in writing within 20 working days; unless there are exceptional circumstances where the information requested has been of a particularly complex or voluminous nature.
In cases where the response period has had to be extended by a further 20 workings days, we will notify you of the delay and provide you with an estimated date of when the requested is expected to be complete.
If your initial request is unclear or ambiguous, we will contact you for further information so that we can understand exactly what information you are requesting.
The EIR fee guidelines have been aligned to the FOI fees regime wherever possible.
The EIRs require that:
• information made available for inspection, and explaining where information is made publicly available, should be free of charge.
• any charges be 'reasonable'
For more information please see Council’s charging policy which can be found here.
We will supply the information in the format it is available. However, if you wish to receive this information in a different format, we will do this so long as it is reasonably practicable. On some occasions this may incur an extra charge, but we will inform you in advance if this is the case.
Yes, the Regulation 12 of the Environmental Regulations does provide local authorities with exceptions to withhold information.
The main exceptions are (this list is not extensive):
o Manifestly unreasonable request
o Incomplete/ unfinished documents
o Personal Data
o Effect on intellectual property rights
However, these exceptions are not mandatory and are subject to a public interest test.
The public interest test involves the Council deciding whether it is in the interest of the council to disclose or withhold the environment information being requested.
The decision to withhold information is taken on a case by case basis; the EIR provides certain exceptions when there is a public interest in not disclosing the information. The information can only be withheld if one or more of the exceptions apply.
No. Under the EIR regulations any environmental information that Southampton City Council holds can be requested regardless of who produced it or owns it.
If the Council does not hold the information you requested but believes another public authority does, we will advise you accordingly and you can contact the other public authority for information if you wish to.
Any applicant dissatisfied with a refusal to make information available, or who considers that a request for information has been inadequately answered or delayed may ask for an internal review of the request
In this instance an appeal should be logged to Head of HR and Legal and Democratic Services. He will then pass this to a Senior Solicitor who was not been involved previously, for a thorough review. All internal reviews must be requested within 40 working days of you receiving your refusal notice.
Any applicant who is unhappy with the decision of the internal review can appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner will independently review the case.
The ICO can be contacted at the following address:
EIR / FOI Complaints
Information Commissioner's Office
General enquiries: email@example.com.
Phone: 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 525 510
Please be aware that the Information Commissioner will only consider applications that have exhausted the council's internal review/complaints procedures.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the ICO's decision you can write to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal to ask for independent review of your request.
The General Regulatory Chamber’s contact details are as follows:
General Regulatory Chamber,
PO Box 9300,
Leicester, LE1 8DJ
Tel. No. 0300 123 4504
Please note any further action would be addressed through the High Court, the Court of Appeal or House of Lords.
The supply of documents under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 is still protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998.
Applicants do not have an automatic right to re-use the information for commercial gain (e.g. by making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public without permission of the Council).
For more information please visit our Re-use of Public sector information page.