Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twentieth Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


  1. The Committee has requested a Memorandum on the following point relating to the Environmental Protection (Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Other Dangerous Substances) (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 ("the 2000 Regulations"):-

    "The disclosure requirements of regulation 11 in relation to inventories are disapplied by paragraph (5)(b) in the case of information which would be protected by regulation 4 of the Environmental Information Regulations 1992 (confidentiality) "if it were information to which those [1992] Regulations applied". Explain why the protection afforded to confidential information by regulation 4 of the 1992 Regulations has been applied to the contents of inventories compiled under these (2000) Regulations which are not of the kind to which the former Regulations apply; and the effect which the provision is intended to have".

  2. Regulation 2(1)(c)(ii) of the Environmental Information Regulations 1992 ("the 1992 Regulations") excludes from the application of those regulations information contained in records which are required, in accordance with any statutory provision, to be made available for inspection by every person who wishes to inspect them. "Statutory provision" is defined as including a provision made under an enactment.

  3. In the Department's view, inventories and revised inventories under the 2000 Regulations are "records" as defined in regulation 2(4) of the 1992 Regulations. So the information contained in them (certainly so far as it is information which must be included under regulation 9(2) of the 2000 Regulations) is excluded from the application of the 1992 Regulations, because of the specific requirement imposed on the Environment Agency by regulation 11(1) of the 2000 Regulations to make the inventory available for inspection.

  4. Regulation 11(1) of the 2000 Regulations is intended to give members of the public access to information which is in practice speedier than that which they would have under the 1992 Regulations. But the policy is to maintain the same exceptions from disclosure as would otherwise apply under the 1992 Regulations to information held by the Environment Agency. For example, information about the location and description of particular electricity or communications equipment (regulation 9(2)(b) of the 2000 Regulations) may relate to national defence or public security (regulation 4(2) of the 1992 Regulations, as amended); the Department would not wish the information to be made available in these circumstances.

16th May 2000

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