History and directives
The UK has had Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) since 1992. The Regulations give a statutory right of access to environmental information held by public authorities and certain other bodies. The new Environmental Information Regulations 2004 came into force on 1 January 2005. The EIRs 2004 have been updated to bring the UK into line with international requirements, as laid down in EC Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information, and also in the Aarhus Convention.
This page sets out the background to the Regulations and provides links to all the relevant documents.
History of the EC proposal
Draft Environmental Information Regulations were debated and passed by Parliament in December 2004. The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 - SI 2004/3391 came into force on 1 January 2005.
EC Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information was published in the European Union Official Journal, February 2003.
Negotiations on the forthcoming European Directive on Public Access to Environmental Information (to replace Directive 90/313/EEC) were completed. Agreement was reached in conciliation on the text of the draft directive on public participation in environmental decision making. The directive went for its third reading by the European Parliament on 29-30 January, 2003.
On 18 December the European Parliament adopted a resolution approving the joint text agreed by the Conciliation Committee. Use the Register of Council Documents to locate historical versions of Council texts. A full history of the European Parliament's consideration of the dossier COD/2000/0169 can be obtained using the European Parliament's Legislative Observatory. On this site can be found links to key European Parliament documents such as the report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy.
In July 2002, Defra published a consultation paper on new draft Environmental Information Regulations.
UK Parliamentary Scrutiny
A supplementary Explanatory Memorandum, which took account of the results of the public consultation exercise and continuing negotiations in Brussels, was submitted to Parliament on 26 April 2001. This contained a full Regulatory Impact Assessment. It also updated the Scrutiny Committees on the progress of the dossier and of our success in remedying their concerns.
On 10 October 2000, the Government set out its preliminary views on the proposal in a consultation paper and invited comments. The consultation paper included a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment for the proposal which sets out the likely costs involved. A summary of the responses to the consultation paper that were received has been prepared.
An Explanatory Memorandum was presented to the Westminster Parliament on 6 October 2000 to introduce the Commission's proposal.
In 1998 the United Kingdom signed the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters - the Aarhus Convention. The Environmental Information Regulations 1992 were amended by the Environmental Information (Amendment) Regulations 1998.
These amendments brought the UK Regulations closer in line with EC Directive 90/313/EEC on the freedom of access to information on the environment.
The Environmental Information Regulations 1992 came into force.
Page last modified: 11 February 2008