EIRs without the Lawyer

By Lucas Amin and Brendan Montague, £6 + p&p (unless collected from our office)

Human beings depend on the environment for their survival. Industrialisation and development, for all their benefits, have led to the neglect, damage and destruction of the environment all over the world.

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The extraction of oil and minerals contaminates water supplies and threatens public health, intensive farming leaves land unusable for decades and unsustainable fishing is permanently depleting the oceans. The problem of climate change now looms ominously over the globe.

Journalism has played a vital role in raising public awareness and political acknowledgment of environmental problems. In 1962 Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was a catalyst for the birth of modern environmentalism, 36 years later the European Union signed the Aarhus convention to promote good environmental governance and this led to the implementation of the EIRs, which give the public a statutory right of access to environmental information held by public bodies.

The regulations apply to more than 100,000 authorities in the UK alone and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more across the European Union and its member states. Recently, information disclosed through the EIR showed there has been more than 4,000 oil spills in the North Sea since 2000, for which companies have been fined just seven times. The EIR was