Providing effective access to information for the public requires more than simply abolishing any rules which cover with secrecy the operations of the regulatory authorities. A research project funded by the Scottish Office has recently examined the nature and appropriateness of the current arrangements for public access to planning information in Scotland. The project's aims were to identify the legal and policy context of providing such access, to identify the scope and nature of the institutional and administrative arrangements in place and to consider the role of community councils in this process. Building on this research it has been possible to identify four elements which must be considered in assessing whether the public is being provided with effective access to information: Legal provisions: the law must require or at least permit information to be provided; Policy background: the policy background must be such that public access to information is valued and supported; Practice of providers: the providers of information must operate so that the information is accessible in a convgenient, useful and meaningful way; Practice of recipients: access to information is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end, and therefore consideration must also be given to what the receipients of the information are doing and whether they are equipped to make use of it properly. The scope of this article is to look at each of these in the context of our research on planning information, with the conclusion that it is the fourth of these about which we know least and to which attention must be paid if the goals of providing public access to information are to be achieved.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of Planning and Environment Law|
|Publication status||Published - 1998|