SIGN ON: Joint letter on secrecy under the Environment (Principles & Governance) Bill

Dear all,

We’ve extended the deadline for organisations to sign on to this to 10 am on Tuesday 6th August.

Signatories so far include Client Earth, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Sustain, Article 19 and Transparency International.

Best wishes


Katherine Gundersen

Campaign for Freedom of Information

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to invite your organisation 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)

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
10 am on Tuesday 6 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:

The draft Bill itself is

Please get in touch by email or phone (0207 324 2519) if we
can clarify anything.

Best wishes,

Maurice Frankel

Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA, UK

Tel: 020 7324 2519 | |

Joint letter v.2.docx (105 KB)