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Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Requests (EIR)

Who can make a request under FOI or EIR?

Anyone (individuals, groups or companies) can make a request to the council under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

Before making a request

Check if the information is already published

There is lots of information that the council already publishes regularly:

Making a request

For any other information, please email us or if you need to write a letter, mark it for the attention of the Customer Experience Team.

An FOI request must be made in writing (email is fine). An EIR request can be made either in writing or verbally. You do not need to quote the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations in your request.

Tell us who you are so that we can reply to you

We need your name and contact details. An email address is fine.

If you provide both a postal and email address, we will use the email address to correspond with you.

Be as specific as possible

You do not have to tell us why you are requesting the information, although it may help us to identify exactly what you want if the request is complex.

Let us know what time period your request covers, and if it applies to a particular town, location, team or person.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) provides detailed guidance on how to make a Freedom of Information request.

What information can I request?

You can request any information which is held in any recorded format by the council, or held by its partners on the council’s behalf.

What is the difference between FOI and EIR?

The EIR apply to all information which relates to the environment, in its broadest sense, including land, air, water, soil, buildings, animals and people, pollution of all kinds, waste, health and safety. This also includes reports, measures and analysis of environmental information.

The FOI Act applies to all other information.

You do not need to specify whether you are requesting information under FOI or EIR.

What information will NOT be supplied?

There are several exemptions and exceptions under FOI and EIR which define when the council can refuse to issue information to you.

This includes:

  • information about yourself (this should be requested under Data Protection legislation). Please see our Data Protection webpage for how to make a request)
  • information about other individuals - this is usually also exempt under Data Protection legislation
  • information which is already published by the council or publically available elsewhere, even if there is a fee for obtaining it
  • where your request is too vague or broad, so that it would take an unreasonable amount of time and resource for the council to answer it. In this case, we will contact you to ask you to be more specific or to narrow the request to ask for less information

If we refuse to supply information to you, we must explain why, quoting one of the exemptions (FOI) or exceptions (EIR).

A full list of exemptions and exceptions is available on the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website:

What happens next?

Acknowledging your request

We will log your request and send you an acknowledgement, with the request reference number.

Asking for clarification

If your request is too wide or is unclear, we will contact you as soon as possible and ask you for clarification. We will put the request on hold while we wait for a reply. If you do not reply within 4 weeks we will assume that you do not want the information and close the request. When you reply within 4 weeks, the request starts from “day 1” again.

Replying to you

The FOI Act and EIR both say that we should reply to you within 20 working days. We will do this wherever possible.

Under EIR, if your request is complicated or there is a lot of information to provide, we can extend the request for a further 20 working days.

Under FOI, if we think we might be going to refuse to supply some or all of the information you have requested, but the decision is complicated, we can extend the request for a further 20 working days.

If we need to extend the request we will write to tell you.

If we do NOT hold the information, we will tell you - and if we know that another organisation does hold it, we will let you know.

If we refuse to supply some or all of the information you have requested, we will quote the relevant sections of the FOI Act or EIR, with an explanation of why we are not supplying the information.

What happens if I am dissatisfied with a response I've received?

Questions about the response

Contact us as soon as possible. We may be able to answer any queries quickly (for example, if we have misunderstood your request or provided an incomplete or unclear response).

Asking for additional information

If you want to know more as a result of our reply, you can make a new request.

Internal Review

If we have refused to supply information, and you disagree with the reasons, or if you think that we have acted incorrectly in replying to your request, please ask us for an internal review.

We will not usually consider a request for an internal review which is made later than 40 working days after receiving our response (or 40 working days after the due date of the response, whichever is later).

The internal review will be carried out by an officer who was not involved in providing the original response. A full re-evaluation of the response/decision you have received will be undertaken, taking into account your objections.

What happens if I remain dissatisfied following the internal review?

If you have had your case reviewed and are still not satisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO is an independent body which oversees FOI, EIR and Data Protection matters.

The Information Commissioner will not usually consider your case until you have completed our internal review process.

Copyright and re-using the information from an FOI or EIR request

Information for which the council holds the copyright may be used for private purposes but must not be used for commercial purposes unless you have advised us you wish to re-use it and you have our permission to do so.

Published datasets may be reused under the Open Government Licence for public sector information.

In certain circumstances, the council may be required to disclose information for which it does not hold the copyright. In these circumstances you must respect the rights of the copyright owner and seek the copyright owner’s permission to re-use the information.

More information about getting permission to re-use public sector information