Legal Updates

Environmental Law – Environmental Information – Public Authority Guidance

The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (“Defra”) published new guidance note relating to the use of the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (“ICO”) model in respect of the dissemination of environmental information. The guidance outlines the differences between “environmental information” and “other information”.

The guidance note aims to assist public authorities in complying with the obligations imposed on them under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”), as well as the stipulations of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR”). More particularly it provides information relating to Regulation 4 of the EIR in respect of the dissemination of “environmental information”.

The guidance is intended to provide information for public authorities on how to match the required “environmental information” under the EIR to the corresponding seven classes of information as defined by the ICO in the model publication scheme under s.19 of the FOIA.

Furthermore, Defra has also published guidance relating to the Environmental Information Regulations. This guidance note should assist public authorities in defining information as “environmental information” within the meaning of the Directive on Public Access to Environmental Information (2003/4/EC). It should be noted that the definition of “environmental information” is important, as it will affect whether a request for it is handled under the EIR as opposed to the FOIA.

The guidance on the ICO model can be found here:

The Environmental Information Regulations can be found here:

If you require further information please contact us at

© RT COOPERS, 2009. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.




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