Thursday, 26 February 2009

Plane obstructive

I've just posted a new piece on the Index on Censorship website:

It’s not just Jack Straw who’s playing fast and loose with freedom of information, says Chris Ames. Heathrow campaigners are finding it impossible to get a straight answer from the Department for Transport

1 comment:

Tim said...

The copy of the response letter to RFI 2241 that I received (dated 15th Sep 2008) included:

"In applying this exception, we have weighed the competing public interest in releasing the information against that of withholding it. The public interest in the Heathrow expansion proposal is such that transparency in the decision making process is important, not only to ensure awareness of the steps being taken by Defra to safeguard both the environment and human health (to which binding air quality limit values apply) but also to enable public input and challenge on what would be a major infrastructure project with both environmental and economic implications. However, given the scale of the Heathrow proposal, the balance of interests at stake, the competing policy considerations and the fact that the policy development process is not yet complete, there remains a need for private space in which to conduct full and frank discussions between Government Departments. It is vital that Defra officials can continue to effectively influence this major policy proposal in a confidential way. We consider that releasing details of internal exchanges and questioning between officials at this stage, before policy development is concluded, would adversely affect Defra‟s ability to provide a full and frank exchange of views internally and with other government Departments."

But now that the decision/policy has been completed, surely the info can be released......

The response letter also helpfully includes "Environment Agency‟s March 2008 briefing on Heathrow expansion." which rubbishes the DfT documents from afar. I keep wondering whether Bob Watson as chief scientist at DEFRA with strong climate change credentials leant on the Environment Agency to do a superb job on the science and show the fabricated DfT case to be the flimsy argument that it is.