Differences between Environmental Information Regulations and Freedom of Information Act
Differences between Environmental Information Regulations and Freedom of Information Act

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Differences between Environmental Information Regulations and Freedom of Information Act
  • Brexit impact
  • Similarities between Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations
  • Differences between Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations
  • Type of information
  • Definition of public authority
  • Any body carrying out the functions of public administration—the 'special powers' test
  • A body or person under the control of a public authority—the 'control' test
  • Exemptions/exceptions
  • Public interest test
  • More...

Brexit impact

11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. Any changes relevant to this content will be set out below. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Similarities between Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations

The principle behind the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR 2004), SI 2004/3391 is the same—to grant rights of access to information held by public authorities.

For further information, see Practice Notes: Environmental Information Regulations 2004—what is environmental information? and Introduction to freedom of information.

More specific similarities include:

  1. time limits—in both regimes, information must be provided by the public authorities within 20 working days if the information is held and if there are no applicable exemptions

  2. duty to provide advice and assistance—both FIA 2000 and EIR 2004 stipulate how public authorities should handle requests. Public authorities must give a reasonable standard of advice and assistance to requestors and prospective

  3. appeals—the same appeal procedures apply

For more information, see Practice Notes:

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