Exceptions to the Duty to Disclose Environmental Information
What grounds are there for refusing a request?
The presumption is that environmental information must be released, unless there are compelling and substantive reasons to withhold it. The Regulations list the conditions under which a body can refuse information. Any refusal to release information should be sanctioned by:-
Information Rights Manager
Phone: (029) 20 875466
Information Rights Manager
Governance and Compliance Division
4th Floor McKenzie House
30-36 Newport Road
Are there any exceptions to the duty to disclose Environmental Information?
There are exceptions to the duty to disclose Environmental Information as shown in The Environmental Information Regulations 2004, Regulations 12 & 13.
(4) (a) the information is not held by the University when the applicant’s request is received;
(4) (c) the request is formulated in too general a manner (in which case the University would seek further clarification from the requestor);
Regulation 13 - the information consists of personal information, where release of that information would be not be permitted under the Data Protection Act.
Exceptions to release, subject to public interest test:
Information may also be withheld where it falls under one or more of the following exceptions. However, the Regulations require further consideration as to whether or not it is in the public interest to release information regardless of whether one of the exceptions below applies. If it is in the greater public interest to release the information then the University will do so.
(4) (b) the request for information is manifestly unreasonable (for example, that it would take more than 18 hours to find and/or retrieve the information);
(4) (d) the request relates to material which is in the course of completion i.e. unfinished documents or data (in which case the University would clarify when the information would be available);
(4) (e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications.
Where release would adversely affect:
(5) (a) international relations, defence, national security or public safety;
(5) (b) the course of justice, the ability of a person to receive a fair trial or the ability of the University to conduct an inquiry of a disciplinary nature;
(5) (c) intellectual property rights;
(5) (d) the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority where such confidentiality is provided by law;
(5) (e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest;
(5) (f) the interests of the person who provided the information where that person: -
(i) was not, and could not have been put under, a legal obligation to supply it
(ii) did not supply it in circumstances such that that or any other public authority is entitled apart
from these Regulations to disclose it; and
(iii) has not consented to its disclosure; or
(5) (g) the protection of the environment to which the information relates.
To the extent that the environmental information to be disclosed relates to emissions, the information must be released notwithstanding any grounds for refusal because of confidentiality of proceedings, commercial confidentiality, personal/voluntary data or environmental protection.
To apply an exception from the above table the University must be sure that release of the information in this case would have an adverse effect on one of the above interests. The University must also make it clear how it believes the release of the information would adversely affect that interest.
To access a full copy of The Environmental Information Act 2004 please use the following link