The Freedom of Information Act gives you a general right to obtain information from the Council. The Environmental Information Regulations give you specific rights if the information is about environmental matters. When you’re submitting a request, you don’t need to decide whether it comes under Freedom of Information or Environmental Information; you can simply ask for the information you want. We have to decide how to deal with your request, based on the subject matter and the requirements of the legislation. The following gives you more information about how we deal with requests for environmental information.
What is the definition of environmental information?
Under the Regulations, environmental information is defined as follows:
- The state of the elements of the environment, such as air, water, soil, land, fauna (including human beings)
- Emissions and discharges, noise, energy, radiation, waste and other such substances
- Measures and activities such as policies, plans, and agreements affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements of the environment
- Reports, cost-benefit and economic analyses about the environment
- The state of human health and safety, contamination of the food chain
- Cultural sites and built structures (to the extent they may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment)
Who can request information?
As with Freedom of Information, anyone can request information, not just Bolton residents.
How do I submit a request?
You can request environmental information verbally or in writing. It helps us if you use the request form (290KB) but you do not have to do so. If you make a verbal request we will answer you immediately if we can, but if not we will make a written note of your request and deal with it according to the Environmental Information Regulations.
What happens then?
We acknowledge your request. We identify what information we hold that answers your question. We respond to your request as soon as possible and in any case within 20 working days. If the information you have requested is particularly complex or voluminous, we may need additional time to provide it; if so we will inform you of this within 20 working days.
Normally, we simply provide the information you have asked for. If we do not hold the information you want, or if it is already publicly available, we will tell you. If we do not understand your question we will ask for more details. We will tell you if any of the information is exempt under the Environmental information Regulations.
Is any information exempt?
If the information falls under certain categories in the Environmental Information Regulations (for example commercially sensitive information or information that is still in draft) we have to decide whether the public interest lies in releasing or withholding it. We will start with the presumption that information should be disclosed.
Will there be a charge?
Under the Environmental Information Regulations we can make a reasonable charge for providing information but in most cases there will be no charge. If any charge applies, we will inform you of this; you then have 60 working days in which to pay to receive the information. There is no charge if we simply make the information available for inspection in our offices.
How is the information provided?
We will make the information available in the way you request e.g. paper or electronic copy, digest or summary, opportunity to inspect unless it is reasonable for us to provide it in another way.
What if I'm not satisfied with the response?
If you want to make a complaint about any exemptions applied to your request for information under the Environmental Information Regulations, or about how we handled your request, you should first contact:
The Monitoring Officer
Chief Executive’s Department
The Monitoring Officer will acknowledge your complaint, consider it objectively and then give you his decision. If information has been withheld, the Monitoring Officer will either decide to release it or decide that it should still be withheld, by reference to the Environmental Information Regulations
If you are not satisfied with the response from the Monitoring Officer, you may then contact:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 01625 545700
Fax: 01625 524510
Please note that we reserve the right to publish a copy of the information we give you under the Environmental Information Regulations on our website or by any other means.
Times are displayed in a 24 hour format.