Environmental information rules introduced amidst controversy

Regulations implementing the 1991 EC Directive on public access to environmental information came into force on 31 December.1 They have provoked controversy in Whitehall and criticism of the Government during two parliamentary debates in December. Environmentalists can be expected to put the new rules to an early test.

The Directive was adopted in June 1990. Its objective is to ensure ready public access to information on the environment held by public bodies.

In principle, the legislation is a powerful instrument for extending access to environmental information well beyond that which is held in public registers - including information going back many years into the past. Whether this happens in practice will depend fundamentally on the attitudes of th

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