The regulations give members of the public the right to access environmental information held by public authorities. The request can be made by letter, email, telephone or in person.
Environmental information is divided into the following six main areas:
- The state of the elements of the environment, such as air, water, soil, land, fauna (including human beings)
- Emissions and discharges, noise, energy, radiation, waste and other such substances
- Measures and activities such as policies, plans, and agreements affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements of the environment
- Reports, cost-benefit and economic analyses
- The state of human health and safety, contamination of the food chain
- Cultural sites and built structures (to the extent they may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment)
If a public authority receives a request for information on any of the areas mentioned above, they are legally obliged to provide it, usually within 20 working days. There are a number of exceptions to this rule - for example, if the information is likely to prejudice national security - and if this is the case, the public authority must explain why the exception applies.