Cost of managing asbestos in schools

The request was partially successful.

Dear Northumberland County Council,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please provide me with the following information:
1. the amount of money spent on asbestos management in schools between 2006 and 2016 (to include the costs of surveys, staff training and work to enclose asbestos within schools)
2. the amount of money spent on asbestos removal from schools between 2006 and 2016
3. the amount of money spent on fines for breaches in the safe management of asbestos in schools between 2006 and 2016
4. funding sought from the Department of Education and the Education Funding Authority for the management and removal of asbestos from schools between 2006 and 2016
5. the amount of funding approved by the Department of Education and the Education Funding Authority for the management and removal of asbestos from schools between 2006 and 2016
6. the projected budget for future management of asbestos in schools between 2017 and 2027

I understand that under the Act I am entitled to a response within 20 working days of your receipt of this request. Some parts of the request may be easier to answer than others. Should this be the case, I request that you release information as soon as possible.

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the Act. I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive
fees.

I would prefer to receive the information electronically.

If you require any clarification, please contact me in accordance with your duty under Section 16 to provide advice and assistance if you find any aspect of this FOI request problematic.

Please acknowledge receipt of this request by email. I look forward to receiving the information in the near future.

Yours faithfully,

Lucie Stephens

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 3043  

Dear Enquirer,

INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information which will be dealt with under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental
Information Regulations 2004.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

If you have any queries about this matter please contact us. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 3043  

Dear Enquirer,

Request for Information - 3043

I refer to your request for information in relation to asbestos.

The Council have considered your request for information under the terms
of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. In our view the request
falls within the scope of the broad definition of environmental
information contained within Regulation 2(1) of the Regulations. 

Right of Access 

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 provide that a public
authority that holds environmental information shall make it available on
request. The Regulations create a general right of access to environmental
information held by public authorities subject to various exceptions. A
public authority may refuse to disclose environmental information if an
exception to disclosure applies and the public authority decides that in
all the circumstances the public interest in maintaining the exception
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

The Council has carefully considered whether the information requested can
be disclosed under the Regulations. We have concluded that some of the
requested information is exempt from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(d).
The full text of the Regulations is contained in the appendix to this
letter. 

1. the amount of money spent on asbestos management in schools between
2006 and 2016 (to include the costs of surveys, staff training and work to
enclose asbestos within schools)
As not all schools opt in to an SLA agreement with Northumberland County
Council, church schools manage their own buildings and during this time
some schools have become academies, it is not possible for NCC to answer
this question. We have therefore concluded that this information is exempt
from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(d) due to incomplete data. The data
is incomplete as it is not held for all schools, which could also give a
misleading or inaccurate impression. In addition the data is not
contained within a single document and a large number of project
documentation would require review to retrieve and collate the requested
information for NCC managed schools.
2. the amount of money spent on asbestos removal from schools between 2006
and 2016
As not all schools opt in to an SLA agreement with Northumberland County
Council, church schools manage their own buildings and during this time
some schools have become academies, it is not possible for NCC to answer
this question for all schools. In addition, we have no formal asbestos
removal programme, asbestos is removed as and when building works are
carried out, and extraction costs are included in an overall price and
therefore can not be determined.
We have concluded that this information is exempt from disclosure under
Regulation 12(4)(d). The data is incomplete as it is not held for all
schools, which could also give a misleading or inaccurate impression. In
addition, extraction costs are included in an overall price and can not be
determined separately.
3. the amount of money spent on fines for breaches in the safe management
of asbestos in schools between 2006 and 2016
None. However, as not all schools opt in to an SLA agreement with
Northumberland County Council, church schools manage their own buildings
and during this time some schools have become academies, it is not
possible for NCC to answer this question on behalf of all schools.
4. funding sought from the Department of Education and the Education
Funding Authority for the management and removal of asbestos from schools
between 2006 and 2016
Northumberland County Council have not applied for any Department of
Education funding to specifically remove asbestos from schools they
manage. As not all schools opt in to an SLA agreement with Northumberland
County Council, church schools manage their own buildings and during this
time some schools have become academies, it is not possible for NCC to
answer this question on behalf of all schools.
5. the amount of funding approved by the Department of Education and the
Education Funding Authority for the management and removal of asbestos
from schools between 2006 and 2016
Northumberland County Council have not received any Department of
Education funding to specifically remove asbestos from schools they
manage. As not all schools opt in to an SLA agreement with Northumberland
County Council, church schools manage their own buildings and during this
time some schools have become academies, it is not possible for NCC to
answer this question on behalf of all schools.
6. the projected budget for future management of asbestos in schools
between 2017 and 2027
As we have no formal asbestos removal programme, and asbestos is removed
as and when building works are carried out, it is not possible to project
the budget for future management.
Exceptions 

Regulation 12(4)(d) provides: 

(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to
disclose information to the extent that - 

(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of
completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data; 
We have concluded that the information  for question 1 and 2 is exempt
from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(d) as the data is incomplete.

Application of the Public Interest Test

The Council is required to apply a public interest test and must strike a
balance between the public interest in disclosing information and the
public interest in withholding it. Regulation 12(2) of the EIR 2004
provides that a public authority shall apply a presumption in favour of
disclosure.

The Council acknowledges other factors in favour of disclosure include the
strong and inherent public interest in releasing environmental information
and the public need for access to environmental information to participate
in decision making on environmental issues. We have considered the public
interest principles in the promotion of transparency and accountability,
public understanding and public involvement in public process. The public
interest arguments in favour of disclosure must be balanced against the
public interest arguments in favour of withholding the information.

In view of the data providing a misleading or inaccurate impression,  the
Council considers that the balance of the public interest favours
maintaining the exception.

Advice and Assistance 

The Council recognises its statutory duty to provide advice and assistance
under Regulation 9 of the Regulations. Subject to the provision of the
Regulations, the Council is seeking to be transparent and open it is
response. 

Notice of Refusal 

With the exception of the information disclosed herewith, please treat
this letter as a Notice of Refusal as regards the information covered by
the exceptions in Regulation 12(4)(d). 

Representations and Reconsideration 

If you consider that the Council has failed to comply with a requirement
of the Regulations in relation to your request, you have a right to make
representations under Regulation 11. Representations must be made in
writing to the Council no later than 40 working days after the date on
which you believe that the Council failed to comply with a requirement of
the Regulations. 

Any representation should be addressed to: 

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF 

Email: [1][Northumberland County Council request email] 

Enforcement and Appeal Provisions 

Should you remain dissatisfied following the above process, you have a
right under the Regulations to apply to the Information Commissioner for a
decision as to whether your request has been dealt with in accordance with
the requirements of the Regulations. The Information Commissioners address
is: 

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF 

Telephone no. 01625 545745
Fax no. 01625 524510 
Email: [2][email address]

Yours faithfully
FOI/EIR Coordinator - Local Services & Housing Delivery
Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [3][Northumberland County Council request email] 
Web: [4]http://www.northumberland.gov.uk 

Appendix 

Exceptions to the duty to disclose environmental information 

12. - (1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may
refuse to disclose environmental information requested if - 

(a) an exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and 

(b) in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in
maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information. 

(2) A public authority shall apply a presumption in favour of disclosure. 

(3) To the extent that the information requested includes personal data of
which the applicant is not the data subject, the personal data shall not
be disclosed otherwise than in accordance with regulation 13. 

(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to
disclose information to the extent that - 

(a) it does not hold that information when an applicant's request is
received; 

(b) the request for information is manifestly unreasonable; 

(c) the request for information is formulated in too general a manner and
the public authority has complied with regulation 9; 

(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of
completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data; or 

(e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications. 

(5) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to
disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely
affect - 

(a) international relations, defence, national security or public safety; 

(b) the course of justice, the ability of a person to receive a fair trial
or the ability of a public authority to conduct an inquiry of a criminal
or disciplinary nature; 

(c) intellectual property rights; 

(d) the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public
authority where such confidentiality is provided by law;

(e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such
confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic
interest; 

(f) the interests of the person who provided the information where that
person - 

(i) was not under, and could not have been put under, any legal obligation
to supply it to that or any other public authority; 

(ii) did not supply it in circumstances such that that or any other public
authority is entitled apart from these Regulations to disclose it; and 

(iii) has not consented to its disclosure; or 

(g) the protection of the environment to which the information relates. 

(6) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a public authority may respond to a
request by neither confirming nor denying whether such information exists
and is held by the public authority, whether or not it holds such
information, if that confirmation or denial would involve the disclosure
of information which would adversely affect any of the interests referred
to in paragraph (5)(a) and would not be in the public interest under
paragraph (1)(b). 

(7) For the purposes of a response under paragraph (6), whether
information exists and is held by the public authority is itself the
disclosure of information. 

(8) For the purposes of paragraph (4)(e), internal communications includes
communications between government departments 

(9) To the extent that the environmental information to be disclosed
relates to information on emissions, a public authority shall not be
entitled to refuse to disclose that information under an exception
referred to in paragraphs (5)(d) to (g). 

(10) For the purposes of paragraphs (5)(b), (d) and (f), references to a
public authority shall include references to a Scottish public authority. 

(11) Nothing in these Regulations shall authorise a refusal to make
available any environmental information contained in or otherwise held
with other information which is withheld by virtue of these Regulations
unless it is not reasonably capable of being separated from the other
information for the purpose of making available that information.

References

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2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[Northumberland County Council request email]
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