Access to information
As well as our commitment to provide exemplary customer services, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is committed to promoting and actively developing a culture of openness, transparency and accountability embodied within information rights legislation.
The information rights legislation gives you a general right of access to information held by any public sector organisation. Rights of access to environmental information exist under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). Requests for other types of information are dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The MMO makes information available through our publication scheme that we published in line with section 19 of the FOIA. The publication scheme is a guide to key information that we routinely publish, focusing on information relating to ourselves and our decisions and our key activities.
How to make a request for information
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 0300 123 1032, or write to us at the address provided on this page if you have an FOI or EIR request.
The MMO will acknowledge your request as soon as possible. This will indicate the deadline by when we will send you a response. We may also require you to provide us with further information or clarification to assist us in processing your request.
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) gives you the right of access to your personal information. This right, created by section 7 of the DPA, is known as subject access. You can submit a subject access request to us by emailing email@example.com, calling 0300 123 1032, or writing to us at the address provided on this page.
How we deal with your request for information
Under the EIRs and the FOIA, we have a maximum of 20 working days to provide you with a response or to notify you of a refusal. We are permitted to extend beyond the 20 working days, but only in exceptional circumstances.
There are occasions when we have to withhold information to protect our legitimate interests and those of other organisations and individuals. The MMO will only refuse to disclose information in response to a request in instances where a valid exemption (FOIA) or exception (EIRs) to disclosure applies to the information requested. Where the MMO withholds information, you will be informed of the relevant exemption(s) and/or exception(s) and why we believe it applies. Many of the exemptions and exceptions to disclosure require us to conduct a public interest test to determine if the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in releasing it. In our response to you, we will provide you with our consideration of the public interest test and information as to the appeal procedures should you dissatisfied with our response.
What to do if you are dissatisfied
You can ask for an internal review of our response if we refuse your request or you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request. A request for an internal review should be sent to the individual identified in our response. Your appeal will be acknowledged, investigated and reconsidered by someone with an appropriate level of seniority and expertise. Should we determine that we have not complied with our duties, we shall take immediate action to rectify the breach.
Should you be dissatisfied with the outcome of our internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. Upon receipt of your complaint, the ICO may decide to investigate and can uphold or overturn any decisions made by us and issue a decision notice.
Our commitment to transparency
The MMO is dedicated to transparency and continues to improve ways that we can publish information about our work. In 2012/13 we started the publication of evidence and data behind major decisions as well as performance data behind published targets. In addition, we opened social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, increasing the ways people can engage with us and tweeting news and updates on our work on a daily basis.
The MMO recognises the value in proactively providing information and embraces it through a variety of means including a publication scheme that details information about:
- who we are and what we do
- what we spend and how we spend it
- what are our priorities and how we are doing
- how we make decisions
- policies and procedures
- lists and registers
- the services we offer
The MMO maintains a marine licensing public register that provides information on marine licence applications and decisions, Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) compliant Master Data Register of all spatial data products used to support our business, a Marine Planning Portal with a wide range of data layers, and publishes detailed evidence reports as part of our commitment to make all commissioned research widely available to increase common understanding and the use of best available evidence.
The MMO treats all requests for information fairly and without prejudice, taking into account the public interest in making information available wherever possible. In doing so, the MMO will always give a clear explanation of its decision if information cannot be published or released in response to a request for information. The MMO also informs requesters of the complaints process should they disagree with the outcome of any decision reached.
As part of the Smarter Government Initiative, data.gov.uk is seeking to make government data available in open formats for people to re-use. We are supporting this initiative by publishing monthly financial data of all transactions with a spend over £25,000 on data.gov.uk.
We are also a partner organisation of the MAGIC website, a web-based interactive map service that brings together environmental information from across government. MAGIC makes use of standard geographic information system (GIS) tools to allow people to view and query the available data. Users do not require specialist software and can access maps using a standard web browser. MAGIC also provides links to other sources in order to make best use of the wide range of information available on different websites and Internet portals. Some links have already been established, but MAGIC continues to explore the possibilities of new links with other organisations and facilities.
Ensuring transparency in our access to information processes
In September 2012, the MMO tested and validated its procedures, controls and mechanisms and commissioned the Northumbria Centre for Information Rights Law and Practice (a school within Northumbria University) to conduct a review that focused on MMO compliance with the requirements of information rights legislation.
Following this review, the MMO was commended for its commitment to a culture of openness and positive approach to information rights. The review also found evidence that the MMO takes its responsibilities under FOIA and EIRs seriously and that the culture is one of openness and transparency. The review also identified further areas of good practice and commended the MMO for its provision of staff training, case management, advising and assisting requesters and compliance with statutory deadlines.
The review also highlighted areas of concern. However, these were not considered to prevent us achieving compliance with information rights legislation, although an action plan to address these areas is nearing completion.
In October 2012, MMO staff visited the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at their head office in Wilmslow to talk through its experiences and performance to date and to meet with case officers to better understand the role of the ICO. Additionally, the MMO presented the ICO with an overview of work to date to secure compliance with information rights legislation whilst fielding questions as to the systems and processes in place. The ICO was satisfied with the level of expertise demonstrated and the level of commitment prevalent.
You will soon be able to check our previous releases to see if we have already answered your question as well as see performance data for our handling of FOIA and EIRs requests.
Marine Management Organisation
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0300 123 1032
Fax: 0191 376 2681