The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 allow public authorities to charge for supplying environmental information. They cannot charge for access to public registers or lists, or for allowing the public to inspect information at the authorities’ own premises or other public buildings.
Public authorities can set their own charges for other requests for environmental information, as long as they have first published information on levels of charges and when charges will be made, but the charges must be reasonable.
Public authorities can ask for payment in advance before processing requests for environmental information. Applicants have 60 days to pay but the authority does not have to start processing the request until payment has been made.
Most public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland follow the rates provided under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit & Fees) Regulations 2004. Under these regulations, there is no charge if the cost of meeting the request is below £600 for central government or below £450 for other public authorities. If the cost goes above these limits, authorities might work with the applicant to refine or reduce the request so that the cost falls below the limits.