Freedom of Information and Public Access

References

The Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD)  administers an extensive range of statutory processes in delivering its  services to the ACT Government and community, including development application  processing, Territory Lease administration, sustainability, climate change and  environmental policy, and parks and conservation services.

EPD has a legislative obligation to ensure that its  corporate records are maintained, including to evidence decisions, support  advice given, and provide historical records for future generations.

The public has a right of access to these documents via  the access provisions of the Territory  Records Act 2002 and the Freedom  of Information Act 1989.

Open Government

In addition to complying with the legislative obligations  set out in the Freedom of Information and Territory Records Acts, EPD is  committed to the principles of open  government as set out by the Chief Minister in 2011. In processing FOI  applications EPD seeks to ensure transparency, collaboration, accountability  and community engagement.

While fully committed to these principles, EPD also has  an obligation to protect the privacy of Canberra community members and  businesses. When processing applications EPD may apply exemptions (redactions)  based on the exemption categories outlined in Part 4 of the Freedom of  Information Act (the Act). The most commonly applied exemption relates to  personal privacy, which is found at Section 41. Information exempt under this  section could include names and contact details of EPD’s customers.

Applications processed by the Directorate will be  published to the ACT Open  Government website after the finalised documents have been sent to the  applicant. Before publishing to this site exemptions may be applied to protect  the privacy of the applicant.

If you have any questions about what exemptions may be  applied please feel free to contact the FOI Officer to discuss.

Prior to lodging a Freedom of Information  (FOI) request

Many documents, particularly if they relate to your  personal affairs, may be given directly to you without the need for a formal  FOI application. If you are unsure what you’re entitled to access, please email  to EPDFOI@act.gov.au or contact the EPD  FOI Officer via the Access Canberra contact centre on 13 22 81.

Sometimes the documents you are seeking, such as the  building history of your house or the registered title documents for a  property, may be available to you upon payment of a fee. These documents are  exempt from release under Section 11 the Freedom of Information Act and can be  purchased by contacting Access Canberra.

Electronic Processing

In keeping with the Directorate’s commitment to the  environment, EPD seeks to process FOI applications in an environmentally  friendly way. Where possible we provide information in a digital format, rather  than by paper copies of documents.

Of course, if you prefer to receive a hard copy of the  documents you have requested you may select that option on the interactive web  form and we will be pleased to assist.

How to apply

To lodge a Freedom of Information request to EPD you can  click this link  to open the interactive web form. Please note that mandatory fields are  marked with a red asterix (*). You will not be able to submit your application  without completing these fields. Anonymous applications cannot be submitted.

You can also apply via email to EPDFOI@act.gov.au.

It is important for you to note whether you are  requesting information about yourself, or your property or business, as this  will assist in determining what exemptions may apply to documents.

When outlining what documents you would like access to it  is important to provide as much information as possible. This could include:

  • file number
  • an application or  reference number
  • the suburb, section  and block of the land involved,
  • street address
  • a time period for  which you are seeing information.

The more detail you provide, the faster your application  can be processed.

The Freedom of Information Act requires that in general,  FOI applications are satisfied within 30 days. EPD will always endeavor to  respond to your application within that 30 days, but for very large or complex  applications it may be necessary to extend that time to ensure all information  is provided. In any event, we will keep you informed of progress.

Fees and charges

Under the Freedom of Information Act there are no  application fees for FOI requests. However, processing charges can be applied  for large volumes of documents where the processing time involved will be in  excess of 10 hours, or printing or scanning exceeds 200 pages.

The current fees and  charges for FOI processing can be found on the legislation register.

You can request a remission of charges where the request  is in the public interest, or if you are experiencing financial hardship.

When completing the application form you may include  information about why you are requesting a remission, or you can email to EPDFOI@act.gov.au.

Section 7 – Directorate Structure and  Functions

Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act requires  Directorates to provide a public statement about the structure and functions of  the Directorate.

Information about EPD, its functions, organisational  structure, and legislative responsibilities can be found in the yearly annual  report, as well as in the “Contact Us” page  of this site. You can find these documents by clicking here.

Section 8 – Directorate Publications and  Manuals

Section  8 of the Freedom of Information Act requires Directorates to make available a  list of all publically accessible publications and manuals. EPD has a great  many publications available around the many functions of the Directorate. Many  of these applications can be found on this website, or you can contact us by  emailing to EPDFOI@act.gov.au or phoning 13 22 81.

The ACT Government is committed to improving the accessibility of web content. To provide feedback or request an accessible version of a document please contact us or phone 13 22 81.