Access laws on green data 'ignored by Government'

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The Independent Online
THE EUROPEAN Commission has fired a warning shot at the British government for ignoring new laws on public access to environmental information, writes Susan Watts.

It has written to the Department of the Environment complaining that it is breaching key elements of a directive which came into force last December.

The main allegation is that the departmentis failing to guide other government departments and local councils on how they should collate and publish information on issues ranging from waste dumps to polluting factories and the destruction of wildlife habitats.

Such data should be made easily accessible, but public bodies differ wildly in their commitment to this goal. Some hold information on computer databases, while others store it on slips of paper in cardboard boxes.

The Department of the Environment said it was preparing a 'robust reply' setting out why it believes it has interpreted the regulations correctly.