Right to Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 give the public in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the right to access any environmental information held by public authorities. It is not necessary to prove an interest or state why the information is required.
This right of access to environmental information is not absolute. A number of specific exceptions allow public authorities to refuse to disclose environmental information, provided that the public interest in non-disclosure is greater than the public interest in disclosure.
Scotland has its own act and regulations with very similar provisions.
The public right to environmental information is intended to allow wider public participation in environmental matters. Bell and McGillivray, leading authors in environmental law are of the opinion that wider public access to environmental information is important because:
- It helps to monitor the effectiveness of regulation
- It improves the enforcement of environmental law
- It informs the public about environmental risks