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On 18th February 2015 made an information request to the Highways Agency (HE as it then was) for “copies of all feedback received in January 2015 about litter on the Highways Agency’s network“.

My request was refused on the grounds that it was  “manifestly unreasonable under regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

I appealed to the Information Commissioner.s Office. In their Decision Notice they stated that:

Regulation 12(4)(b) applies where a request is either vexatious, or would be imposing a cost or burden on the authority to such an extent that it would neither be reasonable, nor in the public interest for it to comply with the request. (Para 20)

Highways England appears to consider the request primarily to be vexatious. It says that the weight of the complainant’s correspondence with Highways England, and formerly the Highways Agency, has caused, and will continue to cause, a significant burden and that the Clean Highways campaign lacks serious value or purpose. HE considers it likely that the pattern of correspondence will not stop, that the complainant is unlikely to accept HE’s arguments or explanations and that his correspondence will be likely to raise repeat issues. (Para 23),

The Commissioner’s decision is that, on this occasion, Highways England has incorrectly applied regulation 12(4)(b) to the requests. (Para 2)

The information was duly provided by HE on 15th September 2015 in the form of a spreadsheet.  In the covering e-mail HE said that it contains all communications made to the Highways England Information Line during January 2015 which mention the word ‘litter’.

This implies that they record and store the information in a readily searchable electronic format such as a spreadsheet or database.



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