Tribunal Upholds Exclusion of Personal Data in Environmental Information Requests under EIR

Citation: [2024] UKFTT 87 (GRC)
Judgment on


In the First-tier Tribunal decision of SP v The Information Commissioner ([2024] UKFTT 00087 (GRC)), the legal discourse revolves around the intersection of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), and personal data as defined under the Data Protection Act 2018. This article analyses the key topics discussed in the case and the legal principles applied by Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley, elucidating how they directly relate to the summary provided.

Key Facts

The appellant, SP, sought to challenge a decision notice of the Information Commissioner concerning a request for disclosure of personal data under the EIR. SP claimed that their personal data should be supplied in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. However, the appeal was struck out as there was no arguable challenge to the Commissioner’s decision. Notably, the case summary does not reference other caselaws.

The case primarily involves three legislative instruments:

  1. Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA): Governs the public’s rights of access to information held by public authorities. While an important tool for transparency, the FOIA has several exemptions, notably for personal data.

  2. Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR): Provides a separate regime for public access to environmental information held by public authorities. Under Regulation 5(1), authorities have a duty to make environmental information available. However, EIR diverge from FOIA concerning personal data.

  3. Data Protection Act 2018: Protects personal data and grants rights to individuals regarding their own personal information, including access rights.

The appellant’s argument centers on the premise that the personal data sought fell within the remit of the EIR and should be disclosed per the Data Protection Act 2018. However, EIR Regulation 5(3) clearly states that personal data of the applicant is excluded from disclosure requirements under environmental information requests.


Upon examination of the appeal, Tribunal Judge Buckley identified that there was no valid challenge to the exclusion of personal data from the requested disclosure under the EIR. Therefore, the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter of whether the appellant’s personal data should have been provided by the public authority. The appeal was struck out under rule 8(2)(c) due to lack of reasonable prospects of success. Additionally, a temporary order under rule 14(1) was made to preserve the appellant’s anonymity, pending an application for the same.


The decision of SP v The Information Commissioner demonstrates a clear application of the EIR and the limitations imposed on requestors seeking their own personal data. It underscores the tribunal’s adherence to statutory provisions which exclude personal data from environmental information requests. Legal professionals must recognize the boundaries of EIR and FOIA concerning personal information and the distinct pathway provided by the Data Protection Act for individuals to access their own data. The ruling reaffirms the lack of jurisdiction within the EIR framework to entertain appeals that fail to provide a substantial challenge to the Information Commissioner’s decisions.