Will I always get the information I ask for?

Both the the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations recognise that there will be valid reasons why some kinds of information may be withheld. This means that sometimes we won't provide you with all the the information you have requested.


Exemptions exist to protect information that should not be disclosed, for example because disclosing it would be harmful to another person or it would be against the public interest. Sometimes exemptions are applied to all the information requested and other times the exemption may apply to only part of the information requested.  If we are disclosing partial information we will remove (or 'redact') the exempt information. 

Some examples of reasons that we may not send you the information you have requested are:

  • Because it represents personal information
  • Because it could damage the commercial interests of us or a third party
  • Because it is  legally privileged (i.e. requesting or providing legal advice)

Public interest test 

For some exemptions we must consider whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in releasing it. If we decide that the information cannot be released we will tell you and explain why.

Repeated or vexatious requests 

We are not obliged to deal with vexatious or repeated requests. Where we have previously responded to a request we are not then obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that same person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between the requests.

When deciding whether a request is vexatious, we will consider a number of different factors, including:

  • How much work complying with the applicant’s requests creates
  • The applicant’s tone and manner when communicating with us
  • Whether the request appears obsessive
  • Whether there is any value in the request

Exceeding the cost of complying

If the cost of locating, retrieving and extracting the information you have requested exceeds the appropriate limit (£450) prescribed by the FOIA we are also not obliged to respond.  Although, in these cases we will try to help you narrow your request so that we are able to respond first. 

Personal information 

In addition the FOIA and EIR do not provide the right of access to personal information about yourself. Instead this is available under the Data Protection Act again, subject to certain exemptions, and is known as a subject access request (SAR).

Last date edited: 23 September 2015