FOE and WWF: It's time to put FOI and EIR to the test

Central and local government, the Environment Agency, health authorities, quangos and other public organisations all over the UK should expect to be inundated by requests for previously withheld information from a wide number of groups and individuals using the freedom of information legislation and environmental information regulations that came into effect at the beginning of the year.

David Cowdrey, media manager for the World Wildlife Fund, stated: "We are planning to use the legislation to get specific information about emissions trading, subsidies to the energy sector, and to find out precisely what chemicals are being used in which products. At the moment, we are just not getting the information."

Friends of the Earth's legal adviser, Phil Michaels, said: "Public authorities, and companies with public responsibilities, have been able to keep us in the dark about their activities for far too long. People have the right to know how public bodies are acting on their behalf, how public money is being spent, and how decisions made by those bodies impact on the environment. However, these new laws will come as a shock to many authorities, who appear to be unprepared."

Quest for answers: After years of being fobbed off or simply ignored, green campaigners believe the Freedom of Information Act could be a powerful tool in forcing open the door to an era of greater environmental justice (The Guardian, 2 February 2005)