Blogs entitled ‘Wuthering Moors’ form a series of articles about the Walshaw Moor Estate and its relationship with Natural England and Defra.
Regular readers of this blog may remember that I submitted a request for information to Defra about their response to the RSPB complaint to Europe over the Walshaw Moor affair.
I received no acknowledgement from Defra and meant to give them a jolly big nudge just before I left for the USA in mid-May – but I didn’t get around to it. Imagine my delight, then, when on the day of the summer solstice, when I had a rather grotty evening in Deming, NM, in a motel whose wifi didn’t work (at least for me), eating in a Denny’s because everywhere else had shut by 8pm I received this from Defra.
They appear to be invoking the 5th amendment.
I shall complain to Defra that they failed to acknowledge my enquiry, failed to answer it in a timely manner and failed to give me information that my taxes have paid for and in which there is a legitimate public interest. If you would like to complain too, now knowing about this matter, then please feel free to contact the Head of Information Standards, Area 4D, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR (email: email@example.com) and say that you agree with me.
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: RESPONSE TO THE EU COMMISSION FOLLOWING THE RSPB’S COMPLAINT REGARDING WALSHAW MOOR
Thank you for your request for information about the above, which we received on 11 April via Twitter and your blog. We have handled your request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs).
The EIRs apply to requests for environmental information, which is a broad category of information defined in regulation 2 of the EIRs. Public authorities are required to handle requests for environmental information under the EIRs. They give similar access rights to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
The information you requested is being withheld as it falls under the exception in regulation 12 (5)(a) of the EIRs, which relates to international relations.
In applying this/these exception, we have had to balance the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosure.
We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosure of information concerning discussions between the EU Commission and Defra about third party complaints as this could further public understanding of the cases being considered.
On the other hand, there is a strong public interest in withholding the information because its disclosure could undermine our position in discussions with international organisations and prejudice potential legal processes.
Therefore, we have concluded that in all the circumstances of the case, the information should be withheld.
I attach an annex giving contact details should you be unhappy with the service you have received.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.