As with FOI, it is possible to charge a fee for providing environmental information on request, although the specific charging rules are different. In particular, in marked contrast to FOI, there is no upper or lower limit to the fee which may be charged. Instead the Regulations merely state that the fees shall not exceed "a reasonable amount" and must not exceed the actual costs of producing the information requested. It is possible (as with FOI) to require payment in advance of providing the information, but written notice of this fact (equivalent to an FOI fees notice) must be given to the applicant, who then has 60 working days to pay. The compliance timescale clock is stopped during this time. The Council is obliged to publish a Schedule of Fees and information on circumstances in which a fee may be charged, waived or required to be paid in advance.
The following is Dundee City Council's Schedule of Fees for purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004:
Costs of locating, retrieving and assembling information:
- Chargeable elements will be included in the calculation in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Fees for Required Disclosure) (Scotland) Regulations 2004
- Staff costs will be charged on the basis of the actual cost to the Council of employing the staff in question for the time spent
Actual staff time is not capped at a maximum of £15 per hour but is charged at the actual cost. The lowest grade member(s) of staff available to carry out the task (being of an appropriate grade to be dealing with the information in question and having the requisite skills and knowledge) will be used. In addition the fee will include any costs associated with putting the information into a particular format, copying and postage costs
Situations requiring payment in advance:
- all fees for environmental information requests require to be paid in advance. This is to maintain consistency with the FOI rules