You have the right to request information that we hold. Before you make a request you can look to see if we have already published the information you want.
The Planning Inspectorate is not a public authority in its own right, therefore you can search with the publication schemes of our parent departments.
Requests for information
You can ask for certain information from us under the:
- Freedom of Information Act
- Environmental Information Regulations
- Data Protection Act
Requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act
You can ask for any recorded information held by public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). If you ask for information that we hold about you then your request will be handled under the Data Protection Act. Requests for environmental information are considered under the Environmental Information Regulations.
We must normally respond to your request within 20 working days of receiving it. If we cannot provide a final response within that time we will write to you explaining the reasons for the delay. We will keep you informed about the progress of your request.
Making a request
Requests for information must be made in writing, provide a name and address for correspondence (this can be an email address) and clearly describe the information requested. Requests can be made to our Customer Services Team (see top right).
The FOIA allows some information to be withheld, to protect various interests. We will deal with requests for information in accordance with our Information Charter and where an exemption applies we will give you a refusal in writing, along with the reasons for refusal and details of your right to appeal.
Exemptions may apply (but are not limited to) areas where the requested information:
- is already available or there is an intention to make it available
- contains the personal information of yourself (requests are considered under the Data Protection Act) or other third parties
- is environmental information (requests are considered under the Environmental Information Regulations)
- would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs
Some exemptions are held to be 'absolute' under the Freedom of Information Act, i.e. the information cannot be released under any circumstances. But most require a 'public interest' test to be applied first, before the information can be withheld. This means that if it is considered to be in the public interest, the information will be released.
Further information about the FOIA, including further guidance on how to make requests, is available from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) (external link).
Requesting information under the Environmental Information Regulations
You can request information about the environment under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). The definition of 'environmental information, provided in the EIR, includes information relating to the state of elements of the environment (such as air, water, land and natural sites) and factors and measures which affect or are likely to affect these elements. Information we hold relating to land-use planning decisions is likely to fall under the EIR.
We must normally respond to your request within 20 working days of receiving it. If we cannot provide a final response within that time, because the request is complex and voluminous, we can extend the time limit for response up to 40 working days from receipt of the request. We will keep you informed about the progress of your request.
Making a request
You can make an EIR request in writing (including email) or by telephone. You should describe the information requested and provide an address for correspondence. Requests can be made to our General Enquiry Line (see top right).
The EIR allow some information to be withheld to protect various interests. Where this applies we will give you a refusal in writing, along with the reasons for refusal and details of the right to appeal.
Types of information for which exceptions may apply include, but are not limited to:
- material in the course of completion or unfinished documents
- internal communications
- personal data of yourself or other third parties
- where disclosure would adversely affect the course of justice
All exceptions require the 'public interest' test to be applied before the information can be withheld. This means that if it is considered to be in the public interest, the information will be released.
Further information about the Environmental Information Regulations is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website (external link).
Requesting information under the Data Protection Act
Under the Data Protection Act (DPA) you have the right to find out whether we hold any personal data about you, and if so, what it is.
Making a request
Requests for information about your personal data (also known as subject access requests) should be sent to our Customer Service Team (see top right). You should state your name, address and clearly describe the data that you want.
Before validating your request, we may request a fee (normally £10), require further proof of identification or request further information from you in order to identify the information requested. If so, we will request this promptly. Once validated, we must respond within 40 working days.
If your request is for unstructured data, we may refuse the request where we estimate that the cost of answering exceed £600.
Other data protection rights
In certain circumstances, you have the right to prevent further processing of your personal details, or to order the correction, blocking or erasing of inaccurate personal data. You may also claim compensation for damage and distress caused by a breach of the Act.
Further information about the Data Protection Act is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.
Please also see our Information Charter for further details about how we handle and provide personal and other information.
Most requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) are likely to be free. However, there may be circumstances where a fee will be requested. This policy explains how any fee will be calculated and communicated to you.
Fees will be determined in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, EIR, and the relevant guidance provided by the Information Commissioner's Office, the Ministry of Justice and Defra.
Requests under the Freedom of Information Act
We will not charge a fee for complying with requests where the costs, which we can take into account, are estimated to be less than £600 (the appropriate limit).
Where we estimate that the cost of complying with a request exceeds the appropriate limit, we are not obliged to answer the request. If refusing your request on this basis, and where possible, we will provide advice and assistance to help you reduce the scope of your request. Where we choose to answer requests above the appropriate limit, the fee requested may reflect the total costs incurred in answering your request.
In all cases, we may charge a fee for reproducing and communicating information to you, for example the postage and photocopying costs.
Although we will consider any preferred format for the information requested, we may make it available in another format where reasonable to do so. Typical charges are set out in the charges schedule below.
Requests under the Environmental Information Regulations
We may charge for the reasonable costs incurred in answering your request. There are no fee regulations, but for consistency we aim to follow a similar approach to that for requests made under the FOIA.
There is no charge for accessing documents on our website, or for inspecting environmental information which we are required to make available.
We may refuse 'manifestly unreasonable' requests that place a substantial and unreasonable burden on our resources. If refusing your request on this basis, and where possible, we will provide advice and assistance to help reduce the scope of your request.
National Infrastructure proposals
A list of applications, and information and documents relevant to individual projects, can be viewed without charge on the statutory register available on our website.
For a charge, the developer can provide you with copies of some or all of the application documents including environmental statements. The most appropriate means, and we expect the quickest means, of obtaining copies of application documents will be to request the developer for them.
Where we require a fee, we will send you a 'fees notice' letting you know the amount that you need to pay before we can provide the information you want. When you pay the fee we will provide the information, subject to any relevant exemptions\exceptions that apply.
The statutory time limit for answering a request pauses once a fees notice is issued and starts again once the fee is received.
If you are unhappy with the calculation of any fee, or refusal of your request, then you may request a review of the handling of your request.
Typical charges for providing information are:
- A4 photocopying - 10p per sheet of black and white photocopying
- A3 photocopying - 20p per sheet of black and white photocopying
- postage\packing\courier service - at cost
- staff time (where relevant) will be charged at £25 per hour.
Please note that we do not have the facilities to provide large volumes of photocopying and may need to use an external agency to do so. Where this is the case, any charge will reflect the cost to us.