The complainant submitted a request to the Environment Agency for the current draft of the proposed Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order it submitted to the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. The Environment Agency initially refused to disclose the draft Order on the grounds that it did not hold it as it was ‘owned’ by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Following the intervention of the Commissioner, the Environment Agency contacted the complainant and apologised for misunderstanding his request and confirmed that it did in fact hold a copy of the draft Order. However, it said that it intended to withhold it under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) as it would be published in the future and the public interest was balanced against disclosure. During the course of the Commissioner’s investigation the Environment Agency disclosed a copy of the draft Order requested by the complainant. The Commissioner noted that the Environment Agency’s handling of the request resulted in a procedural breach of section 10(1) of the Act in that it failed to respond to the information request promptly and in any event within 20 working days.
Section of Act/EIR and Finding: FOI 1 – Complaint Upheld, FOI 10 – Complaint Upheld
References:  UKICO FS50287571
Jurisdiction: England and Wales
Last Update: 16 November 2020; Ref: scu.530323 br>