Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information

The National Forest Company (NFC) strives to be an open and transparent organisation. As part of this we make as much as possible of the information we hold easily accessible. We welcome the requirement of the Freedom of Information Act to make documents, records, data and information available for you.

Implementing Freedom of Information

Our various duties and responsibilities to inform, educate and engage individuals and organisations in the Forest’s creation has meant that the Company already provides information to a wide audience.

The NFC has recognised the vital role which freedom of access to information plays in helping us achieve our goals. The necessity of ensuring that the public has up-to-date information on the Forest’s creation is essential; we rely on their involvement to help us create this major national asset. We have therefore actively encouraged the public to seek information from us, and for example attract them to our website so that we can give them information relevant to their needs.

Freedom of Information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you are entitled to a response to requests for information within 20 days. Under the terms of the Act you are entitled to an internal review of any decision about provision of information under that code and a response within 20 days. If you are unhappy with the result of the review, then you can ask an MP to contact the Parliamentary Ombudsman who has the power to investigate further.

The Act requires government Departments, agencies and public bodies within the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Ombudsman to provide access to official information, except where the disclosure of information would cause harm or prejudice, eg legal proceedings. Our Open Government Officer is: Angela Beech. 

Charging for information under Freedom of Information Act 2000

Seeking a fee for information provided will only be considered as a last resort for very difficult and unusual cases.

Government bodies are not permitted to benefit from any charges made for open government requests. Any receipts will be notified to Treasury via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

If the NFC does decide that a charge should be made for providing information, the following action will be taken:

  • NFC will provide the inquirer with a costed estimate of the proposed fee.
  • If the cost is agreed with the inquirer, an invoice will be raised for the agreed fee.
  • Any work necessary to provide the requested information will not be undertaken until the fee has been paid.

 

Publication Scheme

Background

The aim of the Publication Scheme is to help you find National Forest Company (NFC) information quickly and easily and to improve the flow of information into the public domain. The Scheme ensures that the NFC meets the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (from 1 January 2005). The Scheme has been approved by the Information Commissioner but we will continue to monitor and review it to ensure that it is working successfully.

About the Publication Scheme

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, each public body must produce a Publication Scheme describing:

  • the information it publishes
  • how the information is published
  • whether or not the information is available free of charge

The Scheme aims to provide a clear idea of what information is available in a structured and consistent manner. It classifies the information by type and provides details on how to obtain it.

On some occasions we may need to edit the material we make available. This will usually be because of concerns about confidentiality, invasion of privacy or commercial sensitivity.

Obtaining Information

If the information you need is available on the website, a link to the section will be provided. If information is available by post you can request a copy by contacting the NFC. If you cannot find the information you require, let us know. (Contact details are at the end of this document.)

Paying for Information

The majority of information we provide is available free of charge. You may be asked to pay for priced items such as walks booklets or bound reports and strategy documents.

Information published on the website is free although you may incur charges from your internet provider. If you don’t have internet access, you can access our website using your local library or an internet café. If you are unable to access the internet, you can contact us to request the information. If your request means that we have to do a large amount of photocopying or printing or have to pay a large postage charge, we will let you know the cost before fulfilling your request. Any such costs would be payable in advance.

Copyright

Brief extracts of any NFC copyrighted material included in the Publication Scheme may be reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting.

Authorisation to reuse copyright material not owned by the NFC should be sought from the copyright holders concerned.

 

Accessibility Commitment

This is based upon and is consistent with the Accessibility Commitment of Defra – the NFC’s sponsor department.

Accessibility: We work openly and honestly, sharing information with each other and our stakeholders.

We are committed to promoting and actively developing, internally and externally, a culture of openness, transparency and customer focus.

Our Commitment, we shall:

  • actively publish and release information, mainly through a comprehensive Publication Scheme in line with requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations. We will review what we publish and take account of demand for information. We will publish information cost effectively in ways appropriate to the needs of the intended audience.
  • use language appropriate to the intended audience. Where there are different audiences different approaches will be considered (e.g. full detail for specialists, summaries for the general reader). We will communicate in plain language and avoid the use of jargon. We will take account of, and ensure we are well informed about, the special communication needs of our intended audiences.
  • make it as easy as possible to find information. In particular we will make material available on our website. We will continue to improve our website to make it as user friendly as possible to enable people to find the information they want quickly and easily, and we will, when necessary, draw attention to publication of information using other media as appropriate.
  • encourage better information management. Through the creation and storage of records electronically.
  • consult openly and widely wherever appropriate and practical. There may be times when action will need to be taken too quickly for wider public interest reasons to enable this to happen. In such cases, we will inform stakeholders as quickly as is practical about the reasons for our action, keep them fully informed of progress, seek feedback and consult and involve them in the longer term as practical.
  • encourage those who do research for us to publish their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals promptly and in line with contractual agreements.
  • publish our targets and our achievements against them promptly and openly.
  • deal with individual requests for information in a timely manner. We will treat all requests fairly and without prejudice taking into account the public interest in making information available wherever possible.
  • give a clear explanation of our decision if information cannot be published or released. We will also tell people how to complain if they do not agree with any decision not to release information.
  • sometimes have to charge for publications or for releasing information on request. Our charges will be set out in the Publication Scheme or agreed in advance for information released on request.
  • regularly monitor our performance, actively seek and welcome feedback from all stakeholders including the general public and continue to look at how we can improve our accessibility to deliver a better service to customers.

Accessible to whom?

It is important to note that any person or organisation may apply for, and receive, information held by us. They do not need to be UK citizens or bodies, or to be resident in the country, or to prove an interest in obtaining the information.

Proactive publication and release on request

We will maintain a Publication Scheme as required by the Freedom of Information Act which will set out commitments to publish certain categories of information. Exemptions to this commitment to proactive publication will be clearly defined in the Scheme and reviewed regularly. But this is not the full extent of what we will make available. We will release information on request wherever possible.

Information which cannot be released

The Environmental Information Regulations 1992, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998 set out exceptional circumstances in which a request for information may be refused. We will only take decisions not to release information after careful consideration and give our reasons clearly in writing.

The NFC Chief Executive is the NFC's Accessibility Champion and is responsible for promoting this Commitment and ensuring it is consistent with new legislative and other requirements. We welcome comments and suggestions on the NFC’s accessibility commitment. Please send them to:

Feedback

We welcome any your comments or suggestions you may have, if you would like to contact us, please use our contact us form