Mr & Mrs X c/o Y Solicitors and The Office of Public Works

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeElizabeth Dolan Senior Investigator
Judgment Date26 Jun 2017
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the OPW's refusal to grant access to the requested records. She found them to contain technical information belonging to the State or the OPW that is of substantial value or reasonably likely to be of substantial value (section 40(2)(m) refers), the release of which could reasonably be expected to result in an unwarranted benefit to the applicants and other persons with an interest in the information. She found the records to be exempt under section 40(1)(d) of the FOI Act, with the public interest not warranting their release.
Record Number160529
RespondentOffice of Public Works
Case Number: 160529 Whether the OPW has justified its refusal to release river survey data relating to the Shannon CFRAM project Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act, by Elizabeth Dolan, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review Background

The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Management (CFRAM) project is a core component of the National Flood Policy, which was adopted in 2004. The CFRAM project commenced in 2011. Further to six national studies, including that of the Shannon area, detailed flood maps will be produced and flood risk management measures identified, assessed, and prioritised.

The OPW has, to date, prepared draft modelling and mapping for each of the 300 towns that are at significant risk of flooding, which included the surveying and modelling of 6,700 km of watercourse. It has held public consultations. These included the publication of various maps, although in a different format to those requested in this case. Submissions made on foot of the consultations will be reviewed, and the OPW is finalising the relevant plans. It will then submit them for Ministerial approval. The approved plans must then be adopted by Local Authorities for implementation. The preferred measures will in due course be prioritised via a Multi Criteria Analysis. €430 million will be invested over six years.

The applicants' solicitor acted on their behalf at all stages in the FOI process in this case. All references to "the applicants" in this decision include references to their solicitor.

On 24 August 2016, the applicants made an FOI request to the OPW for the river survey data collected under the Shannon CFRAM project. The request specified various technical information and formats. The OPW's decision of 5 October 2016 refused to grant access to the records sought, under sections 29(1) and 40(1)(d) of the FOI Act. These are, respectively, provisions of the FOI Act that may be applied to records relating to an FOI body's deliberative process, and to records whose release could reasonably be expected to result in an warranted benefit or loss to a person or class of persons. On 10 October 2016, the applicants sought an internal review of the OPW's decision, which the OPW affirmed on 2 November 2016. On 28 November 2016, the applicants sought a review by this Office of the OPW's decision.

I have now decided to conclude my review by way of binding decision. In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the above, and to...

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