Requests for environmental information are exempt from the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), because they are covered by the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EISR).
The definition of 'environmental' is very broad. It includes recorded information held by the Library on:
- The elements of the environment — air, water, soil, landscape, habitats natural sites, flora and fauna, including cattle, crops, GMOs, wildlife and biological diversity — and any interaction between them.
- Any factor such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements of environment or any interaction between them.
- Effects of the environment on the conditions of human life, including food, buildings, and the preservation of buildings.
- The visual aspect of the environment (such as the impact a planned new building on a view).
- The state of human health and safety, conditions of human life, the food chain, cultural sites and built structures, which are, or are likely to be affected by the state of the elements of the environment and the interaction between them.
- Environmental reports and economic analyses, including on the impact of environmental legislation.
- Measures and activities affecting or likely to affect, or intended to protect the state of the elements of the environment and the interaction between them. This includes administrative measures, policies, legislation, plans, programmes and environmental agreements.
- Cost benefit and other economic analysis used in environmental decision making.
Environmental information at the National Library of Scotland
The Library holds a considerable amount of environmental information in the form of, particularly, maps, but also in the form of journals, books and theses on environmental issues, official publications concerning environmental issues and legislation, Manuscripts holdings of estate archives, farm diaries, and records of agricultural improvements, and corporate information, such as plans for the Library's buildings, records of waste, and spending on increasing energy efficiency.
EISR and FOISA
The EISR legislation also came into effect on 1 January 2005, and has been bracketed with FOISA because it shares certain features, such as the role of the Scottish Information Commissioner. However, there are key differences between the two pieces of legislation, notably:
- Requests for environmental information do not have to be in a recorded format. They can be made verbally.
- The 20 working days' response time for EISR can be extended to 40 days for complex requests involving a large volume of material.
- EISR covers a wider range of organisations, including private organisations and public private partnerships involved in environmental services (such as waste disposal, water, energy, transport, recycling, and environmental consultancy).
- Any information concerning emissions must be disclosed.
There are also exemptions to the general rule of disclosure, some of which are very similar in nature to FOISA. The best guidance on these can be found in the Scottish Government document 'Guidance on the implementation of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004'.
How to request information
- To make a verbal EISR request, please phone us at 0131 623 3700 or speak to a member of staff at the Library.
- Alternatively, you can make a request online