Renfrewshire Council

Environmental information

As with Freedom of Information (FOI) enquiries, you can ask the council to provide you with environmental information by way of a request.

If you request environmental information which the council holds, then unless an exemption applies (similar to FOI exemptions), you are entitled to be given the information within 20 working days, or 40 working days if your enquiry is particularly complicated.

If the council decides the volume and complexity of your enquiry means that the extended 40 working days response time applies, you'll be notified in writing.

There is a fee for providing environmental information, although the specific charging rules are different to those applying to FOI enquiries.

What is environmental information?

Environmental information is defined as "any information on the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements; factors likely to affect the environment; measures to protect it; reports on environmental legislation; and any other matter which directly affects the environment".

This is a very wide definition and much information held by the council will fall into this definition.

Fees and charges

Although there are different rules for charges for environmental information requests, the council will calculate the fee for an environmental information request on the same basis as is laid down for Freedom of Information requests, i.e. actual staff time capped at a maximum of £15 per hour plus any costs associated with putting the information into a particular format, copying and postage costs.

As with FOI requests, the first £100 of costs are provided free of charge, and the council may charge the full amount for a request which exceeds £600 or refuse it if the cost of compliance breaches this limit.

Copies are charged at a rate of 11p per copy (this cost is reviewed from time to time at the discretion of the council).

Where a fee is charged, payment must be made in advance of providing the information. The applicant gets written notice of this and thereafter, has 60 working days to pay. The response timescale is suspended during this time. The council must publish a schedule of charges and information on the circumstances in which a fee may be charged, waived or has to be paid in advance.

Councils cannot charge for allowing access to registers of environmental information, or for allowing an applicant to examine information at council offices (as opposed to being given a copy of it).

There are some requests for environmental information which are not dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations and which attract a set charge. These include enquiries dealt with under the Property Enquiry Certificate scheme, and environmental information enquiries from commercial organisations relating to contaminated land reports centred on a specific area. Requests are dealt with on a case by case basis, and if a charge is to be applied the requester will be provided with this information so they can decide whether they wish to proceed. Community Resources Fees and Charges provides an indicative cost based on a simple enquiry - it should be noted that the fee for a more detailed enquiry may be higher depending on the complexity of the response required.

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