Joint letter v.2.docx (104.6 KB)
We are writing to invite organisations to sign a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about a proposed prohibition on the disclosure of information in the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill.
One of the bill’s functions is to partly replicate the EU’s environmental scrutiny functions after Brexit. This involves setting up a new Office of Environmental Protection (OEP), one of whose functions would be to investigate serious failures by public authorities to comply with environmental law.
Although summary information about such investigations would be published, the disclosure of other information would be prohibited. It could be disclosed only with the consent of the body generating it: the OEP, the authority being investigated or the minister. Each would be able to prevent the disclosure of its own information without having to show that an exception under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) applied or considering the EIR public interest test.
The prohibition raises a wider concern. Regulation 5(6) of the EIR provides that the right of access to environmental information cannot be restricted by any other law. The draft bill appears to be in conflict with this important legal provision, potentially overriding it. This represents a fundamental undermining of the EIR and a backwards step in environmental protections.
The government is reportedly preparing to introduce the Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill within a month of a no-deal Brexit, according to the New Scientist (11.7.19). Pressure to persuade the government to drop the proposed prohibition on disclosure is now urgent.
A draft of the letter is attached. The letter and list of signatories will be published when it is sent.
Please let us know by 1 pm on Monday 5 August 2019 if your organisation is prepared to sign the letter (we are not proposing to list individuals signing in a personal capacity). If your organisation can’t make the deadline but subsequently decides to sign please tell us so that if the letter has been delayed we can still include you.
For more information please see the Campaign for Freedom of Information’s more detailed account at:
Please get in touch by email or phone (0207 324 2519) if we can clarify anything.