This chapter provides an overview of freedom of information as it is practiced in Scotland, with particular emphasis on access to environmental information. Before the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) was enacted, people already had certain statutory entitlements to environmental information. Comprehensive rights were delivered by the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) first introduced in 1992 and amended in 1998 which gave the public the right to ask for information which ‘relates to the environment’. Access to environmental regime advanced still further when the UK signed the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) in 1998. There are three ‘pillars’ which form the key principles behind the Aarhus Convention: the rights of access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters. In Scotland, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 give the public rights of access to environmental information held by public authorities. All of the exceptions under the EIRs are qualified by being subject to a ‘public interest’ test.
Keywords: freedom of information, Scotland, environmental information, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, Environmental Information Regulations, Aarhus Convention, access to information, Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, public authorities, public interest test
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