Thursday, 3 November 2011

Duchy of Cornwall is a public body, rules Tribunal

The BBC's legal correspondent Clive Coleman writes:

The First-tier Tribunal today decided that the Duchy of Cornwall is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ("EIR") and is required to deal with a request for environmental information relating to an oyster farm in Cornwall.

The request was made by a local resident Michael Bruton who was trying to find out if relevant consents and permissions had been given, and environmental assessments had taken place. The Tribunal concluded that, as they understood the Duchy's evidence, no Environmental Assessment of the Oyster Farm had been carried out.

The EIR are part of the freedom of information regime in the UK, which implement a European Directive which requires public authorities to disclose environmental information unless an exception applies.

The Duchy of Cornwall maintained that it was not a public authority under EIR and therefore did not have to deal with the request.

The Tribunal found that the Duchy of Cornwall was a public authority under Reg 2(2)(c) or (d) EIR - a body or other person that carries out functions of public administration or a body or other person under the control of such a body or person.

The Duchy is required to disclose the information or issue a refusal notice setting out which exceptions apply within 28 days of the Tribunal's decision.

STOP PRESS: Statement from the Duchy of Cornwall 
"The Duchy is reviewing the Tribunal's reasons for reaching its conclusion with a view to establishing whether to appeal the decision."
  I think Michael Bruton will be a guest on BBC Radio Cornwall's Breakfast programme tomorrow morning, just after 7am.

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