Introduction to the EIRs

The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 ('the EIRs') are based on European Directive 2003/4/EC ('the Directive'). They give the public rights of access to environmental information held by Scottish public authorities. The EIRs came into force on 1 January 2005 along with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 ('FOISA') and cover any information that is considered to be 'environmental information' as defined by the EIRs.

The EIRs build on previous access to information regimes such as the Environmental Information Regulations 1992, which were amended in 1998. These regulations gave the public the right to ask for information which 'relates to the environment' and which was held by a 'relevant person', such as central and local government and other bodies with responsibilities in relation to the environment.

In 1998, the UK signed the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters ('the Aarhus Convention'), from which the Directive was derived. The EIRs implement this Directive in Scotland. The rest of the UK has its own environmental information regulations in the form of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. These separate regulations are regulated by the UK Information Commissioner.

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For more background on the EIRs, read the Commissioner's briefing.

Introduction to the EIRs

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