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Environmental Information Act (Umweltinformationsgesetz, UIG)

Table of Contents

Article 1 Purpose of the Act
Article 2 Area of Application
Article 3 Definitions
Article 4 Entitlement to Information about the Environment
Article 5 Making an Application, Deciding upon Applications
Article 6 Representatives for Identical Applications
Article 7 Exclusion and Restrictions of the Entitlement to Protect the Public Interest
Article 8 Exclusion and Restrictions of the Entitlement to Protect Private Interests
Article 9 Responsibility
Article 10 Costs
Article 11 Informing the Public about the Environment


Article 1 Purpose of the Act

The purpose of this Act is to ensure free access to the information on the environment possessed by authorities and the distribution of this information, as well as to lay down the fundamental prerequisites according to which information of this nature is to be made available.

Article 2 Area of Application

This Act shall apply to information on the environment

1. available from the federal, Land, or local authorities, or associations of local authorities or other legal persons under public law specified in Article 3, para. 1 or
2. available from natural or legal persons under private law who perform public-law tasks in the field of environmental protection and are subject to supervision from authorities.

Article 3 Definitions

(1) “Authority” shall be any office within the meaning of Article 1, para. 4 of the Administrative Procedures Act which performs tasks in the field of environmental protection. These do not include

1. the supreme federal and Land authorities to the extent that they are active within the context of legislation or issuing statutory ordinances,
2. authorities, provided that they need only consider environmental matters according to the legal provisions applicable to everyone,
3. courts, criminal prosecution and disciplinary authorities.

(2) “Information about the environment” shall mean all written, pictorial data or data stored on any other information medium concerning

1. the condition of waterways, the air, soil, flora and fauna and natural habitats,
2. activities, including those which cause nuisances, such as noise, or measures which restrict or could restrict this condition, and
3. activities or measures to protect these areas of the environment including administrative measures and programmes for environmental protection.

Article 4 Entitlement to Information about the Environment

Everybody shall be entitled to free access to information about the environment available from an authority or a person under private law pursuant to Article 2, para. 2. In response to an application the authority may issue information, allow records to be examined or make information media available in any other way.

Article 5 Making an Application, Deciding upon Applications

(1) The application shall be adequately defined and, in particular, it must clearly show to which type of information pursuant to Article 3, para. 2 it refers.

(2) The applications shall be decided upon within two months. The authority shall not be required to check the correctness of the content of the data when issuing information or making information media available.

Article 6 Representatives for Identical Applications

Article 7 Exclusion and Restrictions of the Entitlement to Protect the Public Interest

(1) No entitlement shall exist

1. insofar as the publication of the information affects international relations, national defence or the confidentiality of advice from authorities or may pose a considerable risk to public safety or
2. during the course of court proceedings or preliminary proceedings under criminal law as well as during administrative proceedings with regard to those data the authority receives with regard to the proceedings or
3. if there is cause for concern that the publication of the information will lead to considerable or lasting damage to environmental assets within the meaning of Article 3, para. 2, subpara. 1 or the success of measures by the authorities within the meaning of Article 3, para. 2, subpara. 3 are put at risk.

(2) The application shall be refused if it refers to the transmission of documents not yet completed or data not yet compiled or internal memoranda within the administration.

(3) Applications that are obviously made on an incorrect basis shall be refused. This shall apply in particular if the applicant is already in possession of the desired data.

(4) Information on the environment that has been passed on without legal obligations to an authority by a private individual third party may not be made accessible without the permission of the third party. Regardless of Article 8, sentence 1 shall apply to information that the third party had to transmit to the authority as documentation for an application or registration.

Article 8 Exclusion and Restrictions of the Entitlement to Protect Private Interests

(1) No entitlement shall exist insofar as

1. the publication of the information releases data relating to persons and thus restricts interests worthy of protection of the person concerned,
2. the protection of intellectual property, particularly copyrights, is in conflict with the issuing of information or the provision of information media.

Trade and business secrets may not be made accessible without authorisation. The entitlement under sentence 1 and sentence 2 shall be deemed not to apply, in particular, if the desired information is subject to fiscal or statistical confidentiality.

(2) There shall be a hearing of the people concerned prior to the decision on the revelation of the information protected by para. 1. Usually the authority has to assume that a third party has been affected provided that he has identified transmitted information as trade and business secrets. If the authority so requires, the third party shall demonstrate in detail that it is a case of a trade or business secret. Sentence 2 shall not be applicable to information received by the authority before 1 January 1993 and not identified as a trade or business secret.

(3) In the case of trade and business secrets within the meaning of Article 139b of the Commercial Code the entitlement shall not be excluded provided that the information may be made accessible under para. 1 sentence 2.

Article 9 Responsibility

Article 10 Costs

Article 11 Informing the Public about the Environment

At four-year intervals the Federal Government shall publish a report on the state of the environment in the federal territory. The first report shall be published on 31 December 1994 at the latest.

The above translation was first published by Inter Nationes as part of: Environmental Laws, ed. by Sigrid Born and produced by Ilona Orthen. Reproduced with kind permission. © 1995 Inter Nationes. This HTML edition © 1998 Gerhard Dannemann. The contents of this page may be downloaded and printed out in single copies for individual use only. Making multiple copies without permission is prohibited.