Freedom Of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) places requirements on public authorities relating to the disclosure of information in order to promote greater openness and transparency. The Compensation Scheme participants include the following public authorities (as defined by the Act); UK Atomic Energy Authority, MOD and Sellafield Ltd. In addition, AWE plc, is not strictly a public authority as defined by the Act but, as it holds records on behalf of MOD which may need to be available under the Act, it has chosen to comply with the Act voluntarily.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, interested parties can request any information they require which is held by a public authority and this must be provided within defined time limits, unless the information requested is covered by one of the exemptions provided by the Act. These exemptions are limited and cover such areas as national security, commercial confidentiality and the potential to harm the financial interests of bodies or companies not covered by the Act. For requests which require the reproduction of large volumes of material, the Act allows public authorities to levy reasonable charges to cover their expenses.
In addition to the general requirement to provide information, the Act requires every public authority to establish a publication scheme in order to provide easy access to information about itself, its activities and the way it operates. A publication scheme has to list the categories of information that are available, detail how the information is published and whether there are any charges for making the information available. The Compensation Scheme’s public authorities each have publication schemes and each scheme carries information about the Compensation Scheme. It should be noted here that AWE plc requests should be routed through the MOD publication scheme, which is shared by the two bodies.