NFDC's Access to Information Policy
Our Access to Information Policy ensures that the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulation 2004 are adhered to. The Council further seeks to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998, which provides for the protection of personal information held by the Council, and other access regimes.
The Freedom Of Information Act aims to promote greater openness in Government by giving anyone (including individuals, the press, politicians, companies and those living outside the district) the right to be told about, and given access to, any information that the Council holds.It is intended to facilitate better public understanding of how authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money. However, a limited number of exemptions may be applied to protect some information that truly warrants such protection from disclosure. The Act requires that all requests must be in writing (to include e-mails); to state clearly what information is required; and state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence. The Council has twenty working days to respond to such requests.
Environmental Information Regulations
The public has a right of access to environmental information under these regulations. The regulations have been written to take account of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and as such share many common elements. Environmental Information is taken to mean information that relates to:
a. the state of the elements of the environment such as:
- Air and atmosphere
- Landscape and natural sites, wetlands and coastal and marine areas
- Biological diversity and its components including genetically modified organisms.
b. the interaction between the elements in (a) above;
c. factors such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste;
d. emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment;
e. measures such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes and environmental agreements;
f. cost benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used in environmental decision making; and
g. the state of human health and safety, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures in as much as they are affected by anything above.
The Data Protection Act 1998 governs the processing of personal data held by organisations. The Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them and it provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly. New Forest District Council must adhere to the rules laid down in the Act when processing personal information.
The Act works in two ways. Firstly, it states that anyone who processes personal information must comply with the eight data protection principles. The second area covered by the Act provides individuals with important rights, including the right to find out what personal information is held about them.
New Forest District Council needs to collect and use personal data about individuals to effectively carry out its business duties, many of which are statutory requirements.
The Council fully endorses and adheres to the eight principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. These principles specify the legal conditions that must be satisfied in relation to obtaining, handling, processing and storage of personal data.