Environmental information: Court of Appeal to consider the bigger picture

It is often remarked that there is a paucity of clear binding authority on how to interpret the definition of “environmental information” set out in regulation 2 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The issue is important: it is pivotal to whether a request for information is considered under the EIR or under FOIA. The leading domestic authority to date is the decision of the Upper Tribunal in DECC v IC and Henney [2015] UKUT 0671 (AAC).

The case concerned Mr Henney’s request to DECC for a copy of a Project Assurance Review (PAR) of a particular component (the data and communications component) of the government’s Smart Meter Programme. The Upper Tribunal decided that the PAR did constitute environmental information. In reaching that conclusion, it assessed what it referred to as the “big picture” concerning the PAR.

The Court of Appeal has now given permission to appeal against the Upper Tribunal’s decision. Its judgment will in due course be the leading domestic authority on this important issue.

I act for the Information Commissioner. My colleague Akhlaq Choudhury QC acts for DECC. Maurice Frankel of the Campaign for FOI represented Mr Henney in the Upper Tribunal.

Robin Hopkins @hopkinsrobin