What is 'environmental information?' What is 'environmental information?'

One of the key questions that first arises is whether the information requested is ‘environmental information' at all.  The EIR contains a definition of ‘environmental information' as follows:

"environmental information"  is any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on

(a) 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; 

(b) factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment referred to in (a); 

(c) measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to in (a) and (b) as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements; 

(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation; 

(e) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in (c); and 

(f) the state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain, where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment referred to in (a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in (b) and (c); 

Some other points about ‘environmental information':

Environmental information can be in any format (written, visual, aural, digital or any other format)

The phrase ‘…any information on' is interpreted by the Information Commissioner and Courts very widely and includes information about, concerning, or relating to elements, factors, or measures of, or affecting the environment.

Some examples of ‘environmental information' held by UEA are
  • Clinical waste contracts and information
  • Building plans
  • Power and energy efficiency of buildings
  • Correspondence between researchers about climate change
  • Research data and publications relating to the environment

How do I know if something is ‘environmental information'?

Factors to consider in determining what is ‘environmental information' include
  • The remoteness or proximity of the information to the definition – what is the focus of request?
  • An assessment of ‘effect' is required – what is the link or the effect of the information?
  • This definition has a number of elements which may require multiple assessments (e.g. is it a measure?, does it affect?, is it an element?)

If you have any questions about whether you have received a request for environmental information or whether what has been asked for is environmental information, please contact your FOIA/EIR Contact or the University's Information Policy and Compliance Manager.

What environmental information is ‘held' by UEA under EIR? 

Information ‘held' by UEA for the purposes of EIR includes information
  • Produced, received by & in possession of institution
  • Held by UEA on behalf of another person or institution
  • Held by another person on behalf of institution

Please note that ‘ownership‘ of information is irrelevant – if we ‘hold' it, regardless of ownership, it is subject to the Regulations.