Area 4A, Nobel House
17 Smith Square
T: 03459 33 55 77
By email: email@example.com
2 March 2018
Dear Mr Silverman,
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: FLY-TIPPING BRIEFINGS TO MINISTER COFFEY
Thank you for your request for information, which we received on 6 February 2018, about
briefing notes and information given to Minister Coffey that include references to fly-
tipping. We have considered your request under the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 (EIRs)].
The EIRs apply to requests for environmental information, which is a broad category of
information defined in regulation 2 of the EIRs. Public authorities are required to handle
requests for environmental information under the EIRs. They give similar access rights to
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
As a Government Department, we want to be as open as possible in answering requests.
The EIRs also require us to provide advice and assistance to help people obtain the
information they are looking for and make good use of the EIRs. Unfortunately, the amount
of information that you have requested is very substantial, and gathering it together would
involve significant costs and divert resources from the Department’s other work.
By virtue of regulations 12(1) and 12(4)(b) of the EIRs, Defra may refuse to disclose
environmental information if the request for the information is manifestly unreasonable
and, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
We consider that your request is manifestly unreasonable under regulation 12(4)(b) on
cost grounds and, having carried out the above public interest test, we have concluded
that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest falls in favour of maintaining
In reaching our decision with respect to the public interest, we considered the following
We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of the information you have
requested for the purposes of accountability, transparency and public understanding.
On the other hand, the time taken spent on undertaking this task - searching for and
compiling all the information - would be disproportionate in comparison with other priorities
within the Department. The Minister’s office does not store policy information, and so to
gather this information together we would need to search across a wide number of policy
areas for the time period since July 2016.
This would include the policy areas that cover waste and recycling, but also other areas
that may mention this issue as it overlaps their work. For each of the policy areas this
would involve checking the policy files, shared electronic filing systems, and personal
email accounts of all of the team members for any information sent to the Minister’s office
that mentions ‘fly-tipping’. This would take up a significant amount of staff time, and would
be an unreasonable diversion of staff resources. Therefore I have concluded that the
balance of public interest falls in favour of not disclosing the information.
Regulation 9 of the EIRs requires public authorities to provide advice and assistance to
applicants where reasonable. We have therefore provided details below to assist you to
formulate a request that can be handled at less cost.
The best way we can help you is to ask you to consider narrowing down your request to
focus more clearly on the precise information that you are seeking. You could, for
detail more fully and precisely the kind of information that you are looking for. It may
be helpful to look through the information that is already on Gov.uk under the Defra
site that mentions the phrase ‘fly tipping’ (please see the following link - https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/waste-and-
consider cutting down the scope of the request to the policy area that deals with fly
tipping, and reduce the timescales to a shorter time period, of say 6 months;
limit the request to certain documents such as briefings and submissions; or
refer to the Information Commissioner’s online guidance on how to word your
request to get best results. Please see the following link (you will need to scroll
down the page) - https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/official-information/.
Please note that if you submit a modified request we will handle it as a new request. The
20-working-day timescale for responding to requests will therefore commence from the
date that we receive the modified request.
We attach an annex giving contact details should you be unhappy with the service you
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me.
Information Rights Team
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request you may
make a complaint or appeal against our decision under section 17(7) of the FOIA or under
regulation 18 of the EIRs, as applicable, within 40 working days of the date of this letter.
Please write to Nick Teall, Head of Information Rights, Area 4A, Nobel House, 17 Smith
Square, London, SW1P 3JR (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
and he will
arrange for an internal review of your case. Details of Defra’s complaints procedure are on
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, section 50 of the FOIA and
regulation 18 of the EIRs gives you the right to apply directly to the Information
Commissioner for a decision. Please note that generally the Information Commissioner
cannot make a decision unless you have first exhausted Defra’s own complaints
procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office