Network Rail need not divulge environmental info

A court case considering whether Network Rail counts as a public authority - and therefore covered by the full force of the Freedom of Information Act - has decided it is not.

Freedom of Information

The Information Tribunal has upheld an appeal, from a decision of the Information Commissioner, ruling that Network Rail does not constitute a public authority within the meaning of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) (SI 2004/3391) and is therefore not obliged to respond to requests for environmental information made under those regulations.

The EIR implement Council Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information.

The directive implements the 1998 UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, commonly known as the Aarhus Convention.

The Tribunal adopted a narrow interpretation of the term “functions of public administration” used in the Regulations.

This decision, coupled with the information commissioners earlier decision that Network Rail was not a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, means that Network rail is not subject to any statutory obligation to respond to requests for information relating to its business.

The text for this appeal may be accessed from the Information Tribunal here.

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