The Freedom of Information Act deals with access to official information. In addition there are also regulations which provide access to environmental information. These are known as the Environmental Information Regulations. The Freedom of Information Act applies to most public authorities. It also applies to companies which are wholly owned by public authorities.
The Act gives the public a general right of access to information held by public authorities. The Act also requires public authorities to have a publication scheme, which is a means of providing access to information which an authority proactively publishes.
When responding to requests, there are procedural requirements set out in the Act which an authority must follow. There are also valid reasons for withholding information, which are known as exemptions from the right to know.