Hastings Council has won an appeal against the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) demand for its to publish Coffey Geotechnics’ second report into a landslide at Ecclesbourne Glen within Hastings Country Park in 2014.
The ICO had directed the council in a “decision notice” to publish the report following a freedom of information request from the Save Ecclesbourne Glen action group, but the council said it had declined on the basis of commercial sensitivity and appealed to the Information Rights Tribunal.
The tribunal concluded that the public interest in releasing the report was small, the harm likely to be substantial. The tribunal said that it was satisfied that the ICO’s decision notice was wrong in law, and the appeal was allowed.
Council spokesperson Kevin Boorman said the council welcomed the decision. “This has been a long and difficult case, and we are obviously delighted to have won it,” he said. “We are all very disappointed that the landslide in Ecclesbourne Glen took place, and know that the subsequent closure of part of the glen has saddened local residents and visitors alike.
“The country park is one of the jewels in our crown, and extremely popular. We would much rather the whole of Ecclesbourne Glen was open but, sadly, given the continuing unstable nature of the ground, the footpaths affected by the landslip remain closed. The area where the landslip occurred continues to be unstable and is at risk of further slippage. Another sudden slip could be serious, and potentially fatal to anyone walking in the area.
“Obviously we can’t reverse the landslide, and it is regrettable that a small number of people are still continuing to challenge our decisions. This is time-consuming, costly and unproductive for us, and we would much rather that our energies were directed elsewhere.”
The ICO has not commented on the outcome of the tribunal.