Latest updates - last updated 14 March 2023
14 March 2023 - This guidance has been converted to webpage format. The following changes have also been made:
- The ‘Material still in the course of completion’ section has been amended to take into account of the Tribunal decisions in Ames EA/2015/0283 and Highways Agency v Information Commissioner and Manisty  UKUT 423 ACC. These two cases provide greater clarity on the definition of ‘Material’, ‘still in the course of completion and ‘relates to’ within the exception. New case examples and analysis have been added to outline and explain these changes. This section provides a significant update on the ICO’s previous approach.
- A new case example has been added, EA/2017/0266, to explain issues relating to the status of an unfinished documents under the exception. It explains how this part of the exception may be affected where an unfinished document is being used by the authority concerned to inform upon its decision making.
- A new case study has been added: FER0837216, which explains in greater detail why, and when, raw data may be considered complete.
- A new case study has been added: EA/2019/0225. This provides an example of where the public interest might weigh in favour of disclosure, despite a decision that information was unfinished or incomplete, where the information is being used by the authority holding it to inform its decision making.
- A new example has been added: EA/2007/0072 and analysis of ‘safe space’ arguments within the public interest test updated. The example explains why safe space arguments may be relevant and hold weight within the public interest test. The wider text highlights that this can be significantly effected by the timing of the request.
- A new case example has been added: (GIA)  UKUT 185 (AAC), outlining the Upper Tribunal’s decision that chilling effect arguments should be treated with caution where public officials are concerned.
About this detailed guidance
This guidance discusses regulation 12(4)(d) of the EIR in detail and is written for use by public authorities. An overview of the main provisions of the EIR can be found in The Guide to the Environmental Information Regulations.
- What do the EIR say?
- What is information relating to material which is still in the course of completion?
- What is an ‘unfinished document’?
- What is ‘incomplete data’?
- What can we take into account in the public interest test?
- What is ‘safe space’ and how does the timing of the request affect it?
- What is the ‘chilling effect’?
- What about misleading information?
- What about the need to disclose accurate information?
- What if disclosing the information would distract public debate?
- How can the content of the information affect the public interest test?
- How will the timing of the request affect the public interest test?
- Regulation 14(4)
- Further reading
Regulation 12(4)(d) states:
12.—(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
The exception can therefore be split into the three possible limbs:
Information which is, or which relates to:
- material which is still in the course of completion;
- unfinished documents; or
- incomplete data.
The exception goes beyond applying to requests for information in material that is in the course of completion, to unfinished documents, or to incomplete data. It may also be engaged if the requested information relates to material still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data.
If the requested information falls within any of these limbs, the exception will be engaged. There can be overlap between the limbs.
You do not need to show that a disclosure would have an adverse effect for the exception to be engaged. However, any adverse effects of disclosure will be relevant to the public interest test.
For this limb to be engaged, either the requested information itself must be still in the course of completion, or the requested information must relate to material which is still in the course of completion.
The following sections may help you determine these points.
You need to consider three questions for this limb of the exception to apply:
- What is ‘material?
- What does ‘still in the course of completion’ mean?
- What does ‘relates to’ mean?
If it is the requested information itself which is still in the course of completion, then the ‘unfinished document’ limb of the exception may be more appropriate.
In the case of Highways England v Information Commissioner and Manisty  UKUT 423 ACC the Upper Tribunal said that “material” must have a physical existence. It cannot be something that does not physically exist, like a project, an exercise, or a process.
For example, an ongoing process of reviewing and rewriting guidance documents produced by an authority is not ‘material’ within the meaning of regulation 12(4)(d). The process itself has no physical existence. Each guidance document will, however, be ‘material’ for the purposes of the exception. The overarching project cannot engage the exception even if it is not complete, but each individual document may do if it has not yet been completed.
In Chris Ames v the Information Commissioner and the Department of Transport EA/2015/0283 (2015), the First-tier Tribunal considered that regulation 12(4)(d) did not apply to completed information that was withheld because the Department considered it related to the larger process of setting government policy on the provision of airport capacity – an ongoing task at the time of the request. The Tribunal said, however, that the exception could not apply because, “An ongoing policy process is not in and of itself ‘material’ within the meaning of reg 12(4)(d).” (paragraph 38)
Material can include information that is not held in documents and is not data: things like photographs, film, or audio recordings.
The term ‘still in the course of completion’ refers to the process of preparing ‘material’. It must be the material itself which is in the course of completion, rather than any wider ‘project' or ‘process’.
A draft document will not automatically fall within this limb of the exception if it is not actively being worked on, or if it will not continue to be worked on within a reasonable period of time. It might, however, fall within the limb of the exception relating to unfinished documents.
Clearly, the limb for incomplete material cannot apply directly to material that is complete and is no longer being worked on. However, as mentioned earlier, information might still fall within the scope of the exception if it ‘relates to’ other material which is still in the course of completion.
Finished or complete information that ‘relates to’ material in the course of completion may be covered by this limb of the exception.
For this limb to apply, you need to be able to identify why the requested information ‘relates to’ the material which is still in the course of completion.
You need to:
- identify the material that is actively being worked upon; and
- be able to explain why, and how, the information you wish to withhold relates to it; and
- consider whether the requested information is a separate and independent piece of work in its own right.
It is important to recognise that the exception will not automatically apply to all information that can be linked to material that is still in the course of completion. If the information is a separate, independent, and complete piece of work in its own right, the information will not fall within this limb of the exception.
An officer creates an ‘aide memoire’ note for a policy guidance document you are developing. The note is not intended to be a formal record but is nevertheless part of the process of developing the policy guidance document.
The note is a completed document because there is no intention of adding to it. However, it relates to the creation of the guidance document that is ongoing and you are still actively working on it.
The exception may therefore apply to the note because it relates to ‘material’, the guidance document, which is ‘still in the course of completion’. The two documents are interlinked.
In Highways England (HE) v Information Commissioner and Manisty  UKUT 423 ACC (12 Dec 2018) the case related to information about the proposed routes of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway (the route maps). This information was produced for a Strategic Study ‘Stage 3’ report that had already been published, along with an overview of the maps. The requester asked for specific detail about the routes.
HE explained that at the start of any major road development, it carries out a high-level study to inform further work to develop options. Only following consultation would a preferred route be announced. It refused to disclose the information, arguing it was exempt under regulation 12(4)(d) and the public interest favoured withholding it.
The Upper Tribunal decided that the ‘Stage 3’ report was a piece of work which was complete, and separate, in itself, and the exception did not therefore apply.
It said that the piece of work may form part of further work that is still in the course of preparation, but it does not itself require further development. It accepted that the related work was ‘material in the course of completion’; however, it considered that the information was complete in itself, and that it was separate and independent from the continuing work on the expressway.
The tribunal said it may be helpful to consider whether there has been a ‘natural break in the private thinking’, or whether the authority is ready to go public about progress so far. It took into account that the Strategic Study Stage 3 and an overview of the maps had already been published by HE.
The exception may not apply if there is a legal requirement to allow the public to view draft documents. This may apply to information such as Environmental Impact Assessments. At the least, a legal requirement to allow the public to review draft documents will be an important factor to bear in mind when carrying out the public interest test.
A document may be unfinished because you are still working on it at the time of the request or because you stopped working on it before it was finalised and you do not intend to finish it.
Draft documents will engage the exception because they are, by definition, unfinished. Other information may also engage the exception if it relates to documents that are unfinished. The section on ‘Relates to’ as it applies to material in the course of completion also applies to this section.
A draft version of a document is still an unfinished document, even if the final version of the document has been published.
Secretary of State for Transport v the Information Commissioner (EA/2008/0052, 5 May 2009) concerned a request for the first draft of a study prepared by Sir Rod Eddington on the links between transport and the UK’s productivity, growth and stability in the context of sustainable development.
The Department of Transport had published the final version of the study, but the request was for the draft version. The Tribunal found at paragraph 81 that the status of the draft “does not change simply because a final version exists” and at paragraph 82 that “the Draft Report is, by its very name and giving the words their logical meaning, an unfinished document”.
Information will not necessarily be covered by this limb of the exemption simply because it has been labelled ‘draft’, however. For example, in the Highways England case the Upper Tribunal said that:
“The way that the public authority has treated the material is relevant but not decisive. A public authority cannot label its way out of its duty to disclose. A label like draft or preliminary thoughts may, or may not, reflect the reality. The scope of the exception depends on the substance, not the form in which the material is stored or presented”
In Paul Thornton vs Information Commissioner (EA/2017/0266, 13 April 2018), Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council sought to withhold information held in documents it had received from Coventry City Council relating to a new road-building project. Coventry had issued these documents to Solihull for consultation. Solihull argued that the documents were unfinished and material in the course of completion.
Mr Thornton argued that even though some of the documents were argued to be unfinished and potentially subject to further amendments, the fact that Coventry had shared them with Solihull was strong evidence that the purpose behind their creation had been fulfilled. The First-tier Tribunal decided that the information should be disclosed, stating:
“[The documents] had clearly reached a stage of development, in Coventry’s view, where details were ready to be released to a neighbouring council for further discussion. The documents prepared to communicate those details were completed at the time when they were passed to that authority...
“…They were not described as a draft and the proposals they contained were not expressed in terms of being unfinished or subject to unilateral change by Coventry. The purpose for which they were created (passing Coventry’s views to the Council) was therefore achieved at the date of release. They could not thereafter be treated as either unfinished or in the course of completion.” (paragraph 22)
This part of the exception applies where data is incomplete because you are still collecting it. The exception may also be engaged if the information relates to incomplete data. The section on ‘Relates to’ as it applies to the material in the course of completion also applies to this section.
Data is unlikely to be considered as incomplete if you are already relying on it in your decision-making processes, even if you intend to add to, check the accuracy of, or modify that data at some point in the future.
Decision Notice FER0321779 concerned a request to Basildon Council for information about the eviction of travellers from unauthorised sites. The Council applied regulation 12(4)(d) to a small part of the information – an estimate of the number of mobile homes on the sites. They argued that this was incomplete data because it was an estimate that may change in the future. The Commissioner found that the exception was not engaged:
“The Commissioner was not persuaded that an estimate could be said to be “incomplete” information simply by virtue of being an estimate that may turn out to be incorrect in the future or which is subject to change. As far as the Commissioner can see, the information represented the estimation of the contractor based on the information available at that time and in view of this, the Commissioner would regard that estimation as being “complete” information.” (paragraph 51)
If you have collected raw data and are using it as part of ongoing research, that data is unlikely to be incomplete. You are using and relying on it, even though that data may later be published in a more meaningful form.
Decision notice FS50163282 concerned a request to Queen’s University Belfast for data from tree-ring research.
The university said it was using the data in ongoing research that would lead to future publications. It intended to publish the data on the internet in a “meaningful, controlled scientific and managed way” as part of new tree-ring chronologies.
The Commissioner said that although the university was still analysing the data, it had already collected it and it was not unfinished or incomplete.
Raw data that you are currently relying on is also unlikely to be incomplete purely because you intend to address the format of the data or run a correction process on the data in the future.
Decision notice FER0837216 concerned a request to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (the APHA) relating to raw data on trap-side testing carried out on badgers suspected of carrying the bovine tuberculosis virus. The APHA argued that the data was incomplete as it was “still in the course of analysis, completion and discussion”.
The Commissioner’s decision referred to the Implementation Guide for the Convention (2nd edition 2014) (“the Guide”), which provides guidance on the implementation and interpretation of The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention).
Referring to the application of regulation 12(4)(d), the Guide states (at page 85) that, “A request for access to raw environmental data cannot be refused on the grounds that it is “material in the course of completion” to be made publicly available only after processing or correction factors have been applied.”
The Commissioner’s decision was that the raw data was not incomplete on the basis of an intention to carry out further analysis, completion, and discussion.
Even if it can be demonstrated that the information is incomplete, the fact that you are relying on it and that it is influencing your decision making is likely to significantly strengthen the case for its disclosure in the public interest test under Regulation 12(1)(b).
Armagh Brainbridge Craigavon Council v IC Laverty (EA/2019/0225 3 June 2020) concerned the ‘South Lake Masterplan’, commissioned by the previous council (Craigavon Council) to explore regenerative potential of the South Lakeshore area. The plan had still not completed its formal sign-off process, but had been relied on in the present Council’s decision-making.
The First-tier Tribunal accepted that the plan was ‘unfinished’, although it considered that this status was ambiguous. However, the Tribunal then drew on the fact that the plan had been relied on in the council’s decision making, and on the fact that it had influenced the council’s actions, in deciding that the greater public interest rested in the disclosure of the information.
In some situations, there will be an ongoing program of research that may be prejudiced if an early disclosure of the raw data occurs before the publication of the final analysis or report. Section 22A of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 specifically addresses data collected as part of a programme of research, but this exemption cannot be applied to environmental information.
There will be situations where public authorities carrying out research may wish to withhold raw environmental data until they have completed and published their research for peer review. Following the above examples, the raw data is likely to be complete for the purposes of the exception if you are relying on it and using it to analyse and prepare your research findings, even if you intend to add further information to it in the future.
While the report is still being worked on, the data may fall within the limb for information that relates to incomplete material. However, you still need to consider whether the data is an independent, complete, and separate piece of work in its own right. Once the report has been completed, though, even if it has not yet been published, this limb cannot apply. This is because the information will no longer relate to material that is incomplete.
It is, however, possible that some of the ‘adverse effect’ based exceptions in Regulation 12(5) may apply. Further information on these exceptions is in our detailed guidance on ‘When can we refuse a request for environmental information?’.
Even if the exception is engaged, you can only withhold the information if the public interest favours its being withheld. Regulation 12(1)(b) only allows you to withhold the information if, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Under regulation 12(2), you must also apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.
You need to consider both the arguments for disclosing the information and those for maintaining the exception.
There is always a general public interest in disclosing environmental information. For example, the disclosure of environmental information may inform public debate and show how a public authority has met its legal obligations.
Read our detailed guidance ‘How exceptions and the public interest test work in the Environmental Information Regulations’ for more information about how to conduct the public interest test.
Many arguments that are often raised relate to maintaining a safe space for discussions, and the chilling effect that a disclosure might have on the ability to discuss matters fully and frankly. These are considered in more detail below.
The need for public authorities to have a ‘safe space’, or ‘space to think in private’ was recognised in the original proposal for the Directive on public access to environmental information, which the EIR implement. The proposal explained the rationale for both this exception and the exception for internal communications:
“It should also be acknowledged that public authorities should have the necessary space to think in private. To this end, public authorities will be entitled to refuse access if the request concerns material in the course of completion or internal communications. In each such case, the public interest served by the disclosure of such information should be taken into account.” (Explanatory memorandum to COM/2000/0402 final)
When considering applying regulation 12(4)(d) in these circumstances, you therefore need to consider whether a disclosure of the requested information would prejudice the safe space you are seeking to protect.
Traditionally, safe-space arguments relate to internal discussions, but public authorities do sometimes invite external organisations or individuals to participate in their decision-making process (eg consultants, advisors, lobbyists, interest groups). Safe-space arguments can still apply if external contributors have been involved, as long as those discussions have not been opened up for general external comment. However, this argument will generally carry less weight than if the process only involved internal contributors.
In the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) v the Information Commissioner and Friends of the Earth (EA/2007/0072, 29 April 2008), the Tribunal recognised there was value in government being able to test ideas with informed third parties and knowing how a particular group of stakeholders might react towards a specific policy. The Tribunal stated:
“…we do accept that there is a strong public interest in the value of government being able to test ideas with informed third parties out of the public eye and knowing what the reaction of particular groups of stakeholders might be if particular policy lines/negotiating positions were to be taken” (paragraph 119).
The weight of the safe-space arguments could depend on the progress or finished nature of the document in question.
For example, if the process of drafting a document is ongoing, you might be able to argue that a disclosure of the unfinished document would make it difficult to finalise the document. However, if the process is effectively complete (for example, if you have made a policy announcement or published a final version of draft documents), then it is more difficult to argue that the safe space is still needed. The following two examples illustrate these points.
In decision notice FER0322910 (Queen’s College), the withheld information included a draft agreement to the sale of land for residential development. The contents of the agreement were still subject to negotiation and had not been finalised. The decision notice says at paragraph 52 that “the Commissioner places great importance on public authorities being afforded safe space (thinking space) and drafting space when considering whether, and on what terms, a venture should be entered into”. In this case the fact that the agreement had not been finalised added considerable weight to the argument that disclosure would prejudice this safe space.
Decision notice FER0184885 concerned a request for draft versions of a report on noise emissions from wind farms. The Department of Energy and Climate Change argued, in favour of maintaining the exception, that the government and third-party contractors need a safe space in which to work, and that disclosure of drafts would mean they could not do so candidly and freely. The Commissioner, however, found that “by the time the complainant submitted his request in July 2007 the final version of the report had been published some fourteen months previously. Therefore, there was no need for a safe space to be provided for Hayes McKenzie and the Department for Trade and Industry/Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to discuss drafts of the report free from intrusion.” (paragraph 95)
You might consider arguing that disclosing drafts of reports etc, might dissuade the writers from being frank and candid in giving their views or presenting information in the future. The argument is that this would prejudice the quality of the advice and information in the drafts, and hence the quality of decision making would suffer. This is known as the ‘chilling effect’ argument.
This argument is different from the safe-space argument. For instance, it is not necessarily affected by whether a public authority has published a final version; a chilling effect might still occur from the disclosure of a draft even when the final version has been published.
Chilling-effect arguments operate at various levels. If the issue or task in question is still live, arguments about a chilling effect on ongoing discussions are likely to carry significant weight. Arguments about the effect on closely related live issues may also carry weight. However, once the issue in question is finalised, the arguments become more and more speculative as time passes. It will be difficult to make convincing arguments about a generalised chilling effect on all future discussions.
Officials also have a responsibility to provide information and advice as part of their job, whether or not it may subsequently be disclosed under the EIR. In Davies v Information Commissioner and the Cabinet Office (GIA)  UKUT 185 (AAC), 11 June 2019 the Upper Tribunal stated at paragraph 25 that:
“There is a substantial body of case law which establishes that assertions of a “chilling effect” on provision of advice, exchange of views or effective conduct of affairs are to be treated with some caution.”
There are two main reasons for such caution. Firstly, since the EIR was introduced in 2004, public officials now recognise that it is not possible to guarantee the confidentiality of their advice or deliberations. Secondly, civil servants and other public officials are expected to be impartial and robust when giving advice, and not easily deterred from expressing their views by the possibility of future disclosure.
Officials working in their official capacity need to recognise that their comments and concerns may be subject to a request, but they are expected to carry out their role and provide the best advice and information they can at all times.
You should also be aware that external advisors’ comments may also be considered in the same way.
The Information Tribunal in the case of Secretary of State for Transport v the Information Commissioner (EA/2008/0052, 5 May 2009) considered what was essentially a chilling-effect argument, but in relation to the effect on external advisors, rather than on civil servants. Even allowing for this difference, they were doubtful that disclosure would have a limiting or chilling effect on the quality of their work:
“…where an external advisor is prepared to put his own reputation on the line, we are sure that he would do everything he could to make sure that any circulated report is as good as it can be, as useful as it can be and full as it can be. We agree with the Commissioner that it is implausible to say that the prospect of publication would deter such an individual from acting in this thorough way.” (paragraph 121)
If the ICO receives a complaint, it is important that you fully explain why the chilling effect is relevant. This may include explaining the stage which the relevant advice process or decision-making process has reached and how closely it relates to other ongoing or future processes that you believe may also be inhibited.
The onus is on you to make your case. Without such explanations, the ICO will not be able to assess the weight that should be given to such arguments when considering the public interest in preventing those consequences.
You may consider that you cannot disclose information that is unfinished or incomplete because it would give a misleading or inaccurate impression.
In most cases we do not consider that this argument carries any significant weight because it should generally be possible for you to put the disclosure into context. You should usually be able to provide an explanation if, for example, incomplete data contained errors or provisional estimates, or a draft differed significantly from a final version.
The argument would only carry some weight if the information would create a misleading or inaccurate impression and there were particular circumstances that would mean it would be difficult or require a disproportionate effort to correct this impression or provide an explanation. Examples of this could include where the explanation could only be provided by an employee who is no longer employed by you, or you do not hold the final or corrected information. Another example may be where you have received the information from an external source and are not sure of the accuracy or the legitimacy of that information.
Decision notice FER0210838 concerned a request to the Environment Agency (EA) for reports on the testing of incinerator bottom ash (IBA). The EA withheld a draft report it had received from the Environmental Services Association, a trade body, under regulation 12(4)(d). The draft contained information that was later revised. In the public interest test, the EA argued that:
“Disclosure of the draft would be misleading and create an inaccurate representation of issues relating to the testing of IBA.”
The EA did not hold the revised data and calculations that were made to this draft, so it was not in a position to make any technical caveats.
The decision notice commented that the Commissioner is generally sceptical about arguments that disclosure of information could mislead or cause confusion, since the public authority can usually put the information into context. However, in the circumstances of this case the Commissioner accepted at paragraph 58 that, “it would be very difficult for this information to be placed into context and as a consequence for the EA to be able to counteract any confusion”.
If the effort involved in correcting a misleading impression (for example, in answering a large volume of queries from the public) would be so great that it would actually hinder you from completing the work of which the unfinished or incomplete information is a part, this may be a public interest argument for maintaining the exception.
The EIR provide a right of access to all environmental information held by public authorities, subject to exceptions.
Regulation 5(4) requires that where information made available in response to EIR requests “is compiled by or on behalf of the public authority it shall be up to date, accurate and comparable, so far as the public authority reasonably believes”. The ICO’s view is that the scope of this regulation is narrower than it may appear, and it only applies when:
- the request is for current factual data;
- you are collecting the information on an ongoing basis for your own business purposes; and
- you are or should be aware that the information is not accurate, up-to-date, or comparable.
Even when this regulation applies, it should not be taken as strengthening the argument for the exception applying, especially in view of the presumption in favour of disclosure in regulation 12(2). You should be able to explain the reasons for any limitations in the incomplete data and publish corrected data if it is available.
You might consider that releasing incomplete or unfinished material into the public domain would distract public debate away from the substantive environmental issues that the information relates to. Instead, debate could focus on secondary issues such as any deficiencies in the information or the differences between a draft and a final version.
It should generally be possible for you to minimise this distraction by providing an explanation of any deficiencies or differences. If this is not possible and there is a real risk that public debate would be distracted and therefore seriously affect your resources, this may be a public interest argument for maintaining the exception.
A key factor in assessing the weight of public interest arguments is the extent to which the information itself would inform public debate on the issue concerned. There is always an argument for presenting a full picture of how a decision was made or a policy position was arrived at. If disclosing incomplete material or draft documents would support this, it increases the weight of the argument for disclosure. On the other hand, information may be within the scope of a request but nevertheless shed little light on the issue itself. In that case, the weight of the argument for disclosure may be less than it otherwise would be.
Decision notice FER0184525 concerned a request to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR; the responsibilities were later taken over by the Department of Energy and Climate Change) for all information they held about the decision to produce a document entitled ‘Onshore Wind Energy Planning Conditions Guidance Note’. The department withheld some information under regulation 12(4)(d).
In carrying out the public interest test, the Commissioner took particular account of the content of the information and how far it would contribute to public debate:
“… having reviewed the amount and nature of information withheld on the basis of regulation 12(4)(d) the Commissioner is not convinced that its disclosure would greatly inform the public as to how the Guidance was published not least because there are only a small number of documents withheld on this basis and the drafts are those compiled later in the process and thus are closer to the final version of report than initial drafts and earlier discussions”. (paragraph 102)
The weight of the arguments made during the public interest test could depend on the progress or finished nature of the document in question.
If you have completed work on the material in question or a final version of a draft document exists when you are making your decision, the public interest in withholding the incomplete or draft version is likely to be reduced.
The ICO will take into account how recently the final version of the document was completed and how recently the draft was produced. In general, the shorter the period since the draft has been produced, the stronger the public interest arguments are likely to be for the exemption being maintained.
Regulation 14(4) places certain obligations on a public authority when another public authority is completing the work. It refers specifically to the exception in Regulation 12(4)(d):
14 (4) If the exception in regulation 12(4)(d) is specified in the refusal, the authority shall also specify, if known to the public authority, the name of any other public authority preparing the information and the estimated time in which the information will be finished or completed.
This could be relevant in a situation where, for example, you and other authorities are contributing towards a joint report, as part of a project or a wider piece of work. If the information held by you is in the course of completion, unfinished or incomplete in the terms discussed above, you could apply regulation 12(4)(d) and refuse to disclose it, depending on the balance of public interest.
However, if you have completed your section, but the other authorities have not yet completed their own contributions, you have a duty to inform the requestor of this in accordance with regulation 14(4).
- The Guide to the Environmental Information Regulations: When can we refuse a request for environmental information?
- How the exceptions and the public interest test work in the Environmental Information Regulations
- Explanatory memorandum: Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on public access to environmental information