The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) gives you the right to access non-confidential information we hold. The information can be held in various forms which includes printouts, computerised records, maps, plans, microfilm, audio-visual material and paper records.
Information requests about air, water, land, and the habitats of animals and plants, emissions, radiation, noise and other forms of pollution, policies, plans and laws on the environment will be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).
The Act does not cover requests for ‘personal information’ held about you. This is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.
Tick Tock – Information Commissioner's Office Video
This video will help you to understand the Council’s responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations.
How to make a request
Before you make a request, please check if the information you want is already published in our:
If the information is not already published, use the online form to make your request.
Your request must include:
- Your actual name, for example, John Smith, Angela Smith
- The address or email address where the information should be sent
- An outline of the information you would like
You can ask for any information relating to the Council, however, your right to ask for information only relates to information held by us at the time that you make your request. The right is to access information rather than records or documents and although you are not required to ask for any particular document, you must describe the information you are asking for in as much detail as possible.
The How to access information from a public body guidance gives you more information about what you should include in a request.
If we don’t have enough information to find what you want, we may come back to you with more questions which will slow down the process and delay your response.
You should receive a response to your request within 20 working days. However, the law allows us to alter the deadline in certain circumstances:
- If we ask you to clarify your request, the 20 working day response deadline will restart when you respond.
- If your request is for environmental information and is either complex or extensive, the deadline will be extended by 20 working days.
- If we must consider whether it is in the public interest to release the information, the deadline will be extended by 20 working days.
We will inform you if this is the case.
Request fees and charges
The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 allows us to charge for information requested in certain circumstances.
You will not be charged for information that is readily available, unless a charge is listed on:
We will send you a 'fee notice' if a fee is payable. The fee must be paid within 3 months. Unfortunately, if your fee is not paid your request will be closed.
Request refusal reasons
There are a number of reasons for refusing to provide information, including:
- we do not hold the information
- it will take more than 18 working hours to provide the information (we will contact you and try to narrow your requirements)
- if an FOI exemption or EIR exception applies.
The Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations have a list of exemptions/exceptions which allow us to withhold information if it falls within certain categories. An exemption may apply where the information is already publicly available on our website.
For other exemptions/exceptions we must consider whether the public interest in applying the FOI exemption or EIR exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the requested information. For example, if we think the information is commercially sensitive or disclosure would affect law enforcement.
If your request is refused, we will explain why and give you details of how to apply for an internal review of this decision.
Reuse and copyright
Any information we supply to you under FOIA and EIR should be for your personal use. We retain copyright to all information we disclose.
Information we supply to you that is owned by the Council can be reused free of charge if the conditions of the Open Government Licence (OGL) are met.
If we do not own it, copyright licensing rules apply and you must get the owner's permission to use it.
Other information may incur a marginal cost under our Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations before reuse is allowed.
We will always try to help you with queries and requests for information.
You are entitled to ask for an internal review of our response to your request if you:
- disagree with any exemptions applied to your request for information
- are not satisfied with how we have handled your request, you are entitled to ask for an internal review of the Council’s response.
Please see our FOI and EIR Complaints Procedure for more information.