Environmental Information Regulations
- Make a request
- Our duty
- Your rights
- Once a request is made
- If South Tyneside does not hold the information requested
- Reusing documents
- Withholding information
- Contact us
- Appealing a decision
The Environmental Information Regulations provides access to information on the following:
- The state of the elements of the environment in which we live (such as air, water, soil, land, landscapes, natural sites, flora and fauna including cattle, crops, wildlife and biological diversity) and the interaction between them
- Anything relating to energy, noise, radiation, waste or radioactive waste
- The state of human health and safety, conditions of human life, the food chain, cultural and built structures for example roads, canals, phone masts, tunnels, railway lines, archaeological sites, gardening sites etc.
- The measures employed (i.e. policies/procedures/reports/legislation) to manage the environment
Examples of environmental records available from the Council include:
- Environmental health
- Environmental food and rural affairs
- Health and safety
- Food safety
- Pest control
- Dog warden control
- Pollution control
- Refuse collection
- Waste management
- Recycling programmes
- Energy efficiency
Who the EIR applies to
The EIR applies to the following public bodies:
- Central government
- Local authorities
- Health and education establishments
- Police forces and prison services
- Advisory groups, commissions and agencies
Make a request
Anyone can make a request for environmental information, regardless of age, nationality or geographical location.
The EIR does not specifically limit the number of requests that you can make but the Council does have the right to refuse vexatious or repeated requests.
You don't need to tell us why you're making a request.
EIR requests can also be made verbally, by telephone or in writing using the details below.
If you are making a request verbally it is recommended you keep a note of the person you speak to and the outcome of the conversation as you may wish to follow this up at a later date.
A written request is most appropriate as this is written proof of your request.
Information Governance team
Town Hall, Westoe Road
Tyne and Wear
Phone: 0191 424 6539
South Tyneside Council has a duty to:
- Respond to all EIR requests within 20 working days
- Offer advice and guidance, where appropriate to make sure you get the information you need
- Respond to requests free of charge where the cost is less than £450 or two and a half working days
- Provide information in a suitable format
If part of an EIR request falls within Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Data Protection Act 1998 then the correct regime will apply in terms of timescales, costs and exemptions.
Under the EIR regulations any environmental information that South Tyneside Council holds can be accessed regardless of who produced it or owns it.
What formats the information is available in
We may be able to supply the information to you in another format so long as this is reasonably practicable, e.g. Braille, large type or another language but this must be clearly communicated in your request and may incur an additional charge.
All charges are at the discretion of the service manager and will be advised to you accordingly.
Under EIR we are required to:
- Advise you of your rights
- Offer guidance and support to assist you with your application
- Advise you of where the information is held and how it can be accessed
- Regularly update you on progress with your request
- Notify you of any charges, where applicable
- Respond to your EIR request(s) within 20 working days
Once a request is made
All EIR requests must be responded to in writing within 20 working days, unless there are exceptional circumstances where the information requested has been of a complex or voluminious nature.
In cases where the response period has had to be extended by a further 20 workings days, we will notify you of the delay and provide you with an estimated date of when the requested is expected to be complete.
If your initial request is unclear or ambiguous we will contact you for further information and advise you that the 20 working period has been suspended and will not recommence until we receive clearer instructions.
Why a request may be refused
An EIR request may be refused or part refused for a number of reasons. For example:
- The request may be considered manifestly unreasonable
- The request may be too general
- The information requested may be incomplete/part complete or not available
- The request may adversely affect intellectual property or the commercial confidentiality interests of the Council or a supplier.
- Other exceptions include information that relates to international relations, defence, public security, defence, personal data/voluntary data etc.
If your environmental request is refused
If your request is refused you can appeal against this decision by asking for an internal review.
An independent team of senior staff who were not involved in the first review, will assess your case.
All internal reviews must be requested within 40 working days of you receiving your refusal notice.
If this situation arises, we have 20 workings days to acknowledge your request and confirm a final decision.
Under EIR the council can make no charges for access to the following:
- Public registers
- Environmental information lists
- On site inspections
However, for all other situations a charge may be applied but this is at the discretion of the council and will be advised to you accordingly. Postage and photocopying charges may also be requested.
If a fee is required a fees notice will be sent to you confirming the necessary charges. All charges must be paid within 60 working days of you receiving the notice, otherwise the request will be automatically cancelled.
If South Tyneside does not hold the information requested
If South Tyneside Council does not hold the information you requested but believes another local authority does we will transfer the requested to the appropriate public body who will advise you accordingly.
If South Tyneside Council cannot respond to your request and has exhausted all its potential possibilities to obtain the information we will simply advise you that we do not hold the information.
The supply of documents under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 is still protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998.
Applicants do not have an automatic right to re-use the information for commercial gain (e.g. by making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public) but are able to use the information for purposes of research and non commercial purposes, (private study, criticism, review and news reporting).
Regulation 12 of the Environmental Regulations does provide local authorities with exceptions to withhold information.
These exceptions are not mandatory and are subject to a public interest test.
Public interest test
The public interest test involves the Council deciding whether it is in the interest of the Council to disclose or withhold the environment information being requested.
An example of this includes the Council withholding information relating to the nesting location of rare bird species for fear that disclosure may threaten the existence of the bird species.
If you are unhappy with the decision of the internal review, you can write to the Information Commissioner to ask for an independent review of your case. The ICO can be contacted at the following address:
EIR / FOI Complaints
Information Commissioner's Office
Phone: 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 525 510
Please be aware that the Information Commissioner will only consider applications that have exhausted the council's internal review/complaints procedures.
Once the complaint has been recieved the Information Commissioner has 28 days to review your appeal and notify you of his decision.
Please be aware that the Information Commissioner will only consider applications that have exhausted the council's internal review / complaints procedures.
Appealing a decision
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the ICO's decision you can write to the Information Tribunal to ask for independent review of your request.
The Information Tribunal's contact details are as follows:
Amhem House Support Centre
PO BOX 6987
Leicestershire, LE1 6ZX
Tel. No. 0845 600 0877
Website: Information Tribunal
Please note any further action would be addressed through the High Court, the Court of Appeal or House of Lords.